Police arrested an armed man who had made threats against Brett Kavanaugh near the conservative US Supreme Court justice’s home, a court said on Wednesday.
“At approximately 1.50am today, a man was arrested near Justice Kavanaugh’s residence. The man was armed and made threats against Justice Kavanaugh,” court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement.
The arrest came as the court prepares to release potentially historic judgments on politically charged cases on gun rights and abortion.
The Washington Post, citing anonymous officials, said the man was arrested not far from Mr. Kavanaugh’s house in Chevy Chase, Maryland — right outside of Washington — carrying a weapon and burglary tools.
He told officers that he wanted to kill the justice, the Post said.
The report said investigators understood from initial evidence that the man, in his 20s, was angry about a leaked draft opinion that indicated the court could overturn federal protections for abortion rights, which will likely allow many states to ban the procedure outright.
“Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices, of course, strike at the heart of our democracy,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters.
After the draft opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, was leaked at the beginning of May, supporters of abortion rights protested at the homes of several justices, including Mr. Kavanaugh.
The final opinion of the court is due to be released by the end of June and it remains unknown if it will in fact overturn the five-decade-old Roe v Wade ruling that said women had a constitutional right to obtain abortions.
The man was also angry about the recent spate of mass shootings, the investigators told the Post.
The court is expected to rule before the end of the month on a New York firearms case that could effectively loosen gun control laws in the state.
Mr. Kavanaugh is one of six justices in the court’s conservative wing.