Two people familiar with the investigation said the initial evidence indicates that the man was angry about the leaked draft of an opinion by the Supreme Court signaling that the court is preparing to overturn Roe. v. Wade, the 49-year-old decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to have an abortion. He was also angry about a recent spate of mass shootings, these people said.
Police were apparently notified that the person might pose a threat to the justice, but it was not immediately clear who provided the initial tip, these people said.
The man was arrested at about 1:50 am today, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement confirming the judgment.
Montgomery County police responded to a call for service early Wednesday morning in the area of Kavanaugh’s Chevy Chase home, where officers took a man into custody and transported him to a local police station, said Shiera Goff, a spokeswoman for the department.
This man was in the area some time between 1:14 and 1:45 am Wednesday and authorities believe this person “came in from out of state with the intent to kill Kavanaugh,” Goff said.
She declined to provide additional details on the man taken into custody.
A spokeswoman for the FBI office in Maryland said the office is “aware” of the judgment and “working with our law enforcement partners,” declining to comment further.
The prospect of overturning roe has amplified tensions at the court, where justices are circulating drafts of opinions and dissents. A final decision is expected this month or in early July.
There are signs of enhanced security around the justices. A tall fence now encircles the court building, which remains closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement also has stepped up its presence outside many of their homes. Those who have traveled since the draft opinion was leaked are usually accompanied by bigger security details.
Asked about the incident Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland condemned any acts or threats of violence against Supreme Court justices.
He noted that the concern over increased security risks to Supreme Court justices led him to offer additional resources last month to protecting members of the high court, and said he also met Tuesday with federal judges to discuss security concerns.
”Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices of course strike at the heart of our democracy,” Garland told reporters. “And we will do everything we can to prevent them and to hold people who do them accountable.”
Separately, a spokeswoman for the US Marshals Service confirmed that deputies with their agency, “along with the Montgomery County Police apprehended an individual today near the residence of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.” The spokeswoman declined to comment further.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement that he was briefed on the incident and that it underscored why he pushed for extra security at the justices’ homes.
“I call on leaders in both parties in Washington to strongly condemn these actions in no uncertain terms,” Hogan said in the statement. “It is vital to our constitutional system that the justices be able to carry out their duties without fear of violence against them and their families.
This is a developing story and will be continuously updated.
Robert Barnes, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Razzan Nakhlawi, Erin Cox, Carol D. Leonnig, Rachel Weiner and Ann E. Marimow contributed to this report.