This article was updated on June 8 at 3:41 p.m.
A California man was charged with attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice after he was arrested early Wednesday morning near the Maryland home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent to support a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Maryland on Wednesday afternoon, 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske told detectives in Montgomery County, Maryland, that he had purchased a gun and burglary tools with the plan to break into Kavanaugh’s house to kill Kavanaugh and then himself.
Roske was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Wednesday afternoon.
Roske arrived at Kavanaugh’s house in the Washington, D.C., suburbs shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday morning in a taxi, FBI Special Agent Ian Montijo wrote in his affidavit. After walking down the street, Roske called 9-1-1 and told the operator that he was having suicidal thoughts and had come from California to kill Kavanaugh.
Officers from the Montgomery County Police Department arrived and arrested Roske. In his bags, they found – among other things – a Glock 17 pistol with two magazines and ammunition, a knife, pepper spray, zip ties, duct tape, a crow bar, and a screwdriver.
The news came as the public waits for the court to release opinions in several high-profile cases – most notably on abortion and gun rights. A draft opinion in the abortion case, published by Politico in early May, indicated that the court had privately voted to overturn its landmark decisions in Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to an abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed that right. Kavanaugh was one of the five justices who voted to overturn Roe and Casey, according to Politico.
Speaking to detectives at a local police station, Roske said that he had been upset by the leak and by the recent mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed. Roske told detectives that he believed Kavanaugh would vote to ease gun-control restrictions. Roske “began thinking about how to give his life a purpose and decided that he would kill” Kavanaugh, whose address he had found on the Internet, Montijo wrote.
The arrest of Roske will further intensify security concerns for a court that is already on high alert. After the leak of the abortion opinion, protests followed at the Supreme Court and at the homes of several of the court’s conservative justices, including Kavanaugh’s. In response, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on May 18 that he had increased security at the homes of all of the justices, and the court erected security fencing around its building. The Senate unanimously passed legislation to give the justices and their families around-the-clock police protection, but the bill has stalled in the House of Representatives, where Democrats have argued that security should also be available for law clerks and staff.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a national-security bulletin warning that the impending abortion decision is one of several factors that may cause increased threats of violence this summer.
Neither the complaint nor a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice specifically named Kavanaugh as Roske’s intended victim. However, The Washington Post, which broke the story, reported, and a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed, that an armed man was arrested near Kavanaugh’s residence.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.