Norton Sends Letter to Supreme Court Expressing Concern About Expanded Security Perimeter

Oct 20, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sent a letter yesterday to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts expressing concern about the Supreme Court's expanded security perimeter, which imposes burdens on and may create safety risks for residents of the neighborhood surrounding the court. The letter asks about the court's legal authority to block vehicle access to the 200 block of A Street NE and to order cars to move from that street, and the analysis the court conducted on safety threats to residents. The letter requested a response by October 26, 2021.

“This expansion appears to be unlawful, imposes a burden on my constituents who live in the residential neighborhood around the Supreme Court, may threaten the safety of those constituents, and was done without any consultation with my office or apparently with the District of Columbia,” Norton wrote. “Constituents whose homes are on the 200 block of A Street NE have informed me that the U.S. Supreme Court Police has recently erected temporary security barriers on a number of days that block vehicles, including personal and delivery vehicles, from entering or exiting the street, without advance notice to residents. In addition, residents have been ordered by the Supreme Court Police to remove their cars that are parked on the street on such days.”

The letter follows.

October 19, 2021

 

The Honorable John Roberts

Chief Justice of the United States

Supreme Court of the United States

1 First Street, NE

Washington, DC 20543

 

Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the expansion of the security perimeter at the Supreme Court onto the 200 block of A Street NE.  This expansion appears to be unlawful, imposes a burden on my constituents who live in the residential neighborhood around the Supreme Court, may threaten the safety of those constituents and was done without any consultation with my office or apparently with the District of Columbia. 

 

Constituents whose homes are on the 200 block of A Street NE have informed me that the U.S. Supreme Court Police has recently erected temporary security barriers on a number of days that block vehicles, including personal and delivery vehicles, from entering or exiting the street, without advance notice to residents.  In addition, residents have been ordered by the Supreme Court Police to remove their cars that are parked on the street on such days.

 

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has tried to expand its security perimeter.  As you may recall, in 2006, I wrote to you urging that the Supreme Court reject a proposal to build a security barrier that would redirect the force of a vehicle bomb at the Supreme Court to nearby homes.  Thankfully, that proposal was not adopted.

 

I ask for a response to the following questions by October 26, 2021.

 

  1. Which federal law permits the Supreme Court to block vehicle access to the street?

 

  1. Which federal law permits the Supreme Court to order vehicles to be moved off the street?

 

  1. What analysis has the Supreme Court conducted to justify blocking vehicle access to the street?

 

  1. What analysis has the Supreme Court conducted on the risks to neighbors by blocking vehicle access to the street, including from a vehicle bomb?

 

  1. Has the Supreme Court consulted with the District of Columbia on blocking vehicle access to the street?

 

  1. Why has the Supreme Court not provided advance notice to residents on the days the street will be blocked and vehicles ordered to move?

 

Sincerely,

 

A close up of a logo

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Eleanor Holmes Norton

 

 

CC:      Lt. Gen. Karen H. Gibson

United States Senate Sergeant at Arms

            Chair, United States Capitol Police Board

 

J. Brett Blanton

Architect of the Capitol

 

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