A man who showed up at the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh armed with a gun and allegedly threatening to kill him has been charged with attempted murder.
Nicholas John Roske, 26, of California was charged on Wednesday afternoon by federal prosecutors after he was taken into custody the same morning. Roske has not yet been arraigned, and it was not immediately clear if he has an attorney. The case will undoubtedly heat up the already-fevered atmosphere around the Court, which is simultaneously struggling to recover from a rare breach of confidentiality over its impending decision on abortion and preparing to issue opinions on other hot-button topics such as guns.
According to a criminal complaint, U.S. Marshals saw Roske get out of a taxi dressed in black clothing with a suitcase and backpack in front of Kavanaugh’s house shortly after 1 a.m. Roske did not approach the house but called a local emergency line and told an operator he had come to Maryland to “kill a specific United States Supreme Court justice,” in the words of the complaint. Roske said he was having suicidal thoughts, according to the complaint. Montgomery County police officers responded to Roske’s call and arrested him. Police reported they found in his backpack a Glock pistol, a tactical knife, pepper spray, and a crowbar, among other objects.
According to the complaint, Roske told a detective he was upset about the Court’s likely decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and about the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Kavanaugh voted to overturn Roe and end the constitutional right to abortion, according to a draft opinion that leaked last month, and he is expected to side with conservatives in a landmark gun-rights case that would expand the scope of the Second Amendment. Roske said preventing these outcomes by killing the justice would give his life purpose, according to the complaint. On Wednesday evening, FBI agents searched Roske’s home in Simi Valley, California.
The alleged targeting of Kavanaugh comes amid a period of heightened risk to justices following the leaked draft opinion. On Tuesday, according to the New York Times, the Department of Homeland Security issued an internal bulletin reporting that advocates for and against abortion rights had “encouraged violence” on public forums following the leak, “including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies.” Immediately after the leak, protesters showed up at the homes of Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts. In response, the Senate quickly passed a bill enhancing personal security for all nine Supreme Court justices. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the House to take up and pass the bill, pinning the blame on Democrats for stalling it.
Momentum seemed to be picking up to pass something expeditiously. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said he’d been told that the House was “ready to move” on a modified version of the bill, which would expand security to clerks and staff as well.