Monday night, the United States Senate agreed to boost security for the nine justices of the Supreme Court and their families.  The swift, bipartisan action was necessitated by furious protests that have erupted outside of the homes of conservative members of the high court who appear poised to overturn nearly half of a century of pro-choice, abortion law.

Last week, Washington was rocked by the extraordinary leak of a draft, Supreme Court majority opinion that would dismantle “Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 ruling that ensured a woman’s right to end her pregnancy.  The court had previously ruled that the right to personal privacy could be found in cases stretching as far back as 1891.  Moreover, “throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer” than in 1973.  The majority argued, “There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth,” citing the position that life begins at conception as a modern outlier.  Ever since, the abortion issue has roiled American politics.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat, calls the current, mob action outside of targeted justices’ homes “out of line” and “demeaning and adolescent.”  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, agrees.  He told a judicial conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, “We can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want.”  That’s what Congress is for.