The massive security fences that had been guarding the perimeter of the Supreme Court were removed over the weekend, even though the building is still closed to the public.
A Supreme Court spokesperson declined to comment on security arrangements.
Security around the building was fortified last spring after the unprecedented leak to the press of a draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The leak, as well as the nearly identical subsequent final opinion, triggered nationwide protests, including in front of some of the justices’ private residences. Armed guards were sent to provide 24-hour protection at the justices’ homes.
The court’s press office would not say if the courtroom would be open to the public when arguments are set to resume on October 3. As things currently stand, due to Covid restrictions, the courtroom is closed to the general public, although it is open for official business.
The Justice Department has charged a man who was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house in Maryland with attempting or threatening to kidnap or murder a US judge. The man, Nicholas John Roske, 26, called emergency authorities himself saying he was having suicidal thoughts and had a firearm in his suitcase.
According to court documents, Roske told investigators that he was upset over the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade as well as the potential for Kavanaugh to help loosen gun laws in the country.
In July, the marshal of the Supreme Court penned a letter asking Maryland and Virginia officials to direct law enforcement to enforce state and county laws prohibiting picketing outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said last spring that the Justice Department was taking threats against Supreme Court justices “extremely seriously.” At the time, Garland met with the marshal of the Court, the FBI and others “to be sure that we were assessing all possible threats and providing all resources available.”
The new term is set to begin in October and will feature divisive cases on affirmative action, voting rights, the environment and immigration.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.