Man Pleads Not Guilty to Trying to Kill Supreme Court Justice

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
June 23, 2022 Updated: June 23, 2022

A California man pleaded not guilty on June 22 to attempting to murder Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, appeared in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, near the home of Kavanaugh.

Roske bowed his head and clasped his hands around his neck as he answered U.S. Magistrate Judge Ajmel Quereshi’s questions.

Quereshi set a tentative trial date for Aug. 23.

During the arraignment, Roske’s public defender, Andrew Szekely, told the judge that he was satisfied his client was getting the medical care and unspecified medication that he needs while in custody.

During Roske’s first court appearance, he said he was on medication and that he “wouldn’t say that I’m thinking clearly,” although after conferring with Szekely, he said he was aware enough for the hearing to continue.

Roske faces life in prison for allegedly trying to assassinate a Supreme Court justice. He has remained locked up, and has not yet tried to secure pretrial release.

Roske was arrested early June 8 dropped off by a taxi outside Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, according to court documents.

Roske saw two deputy U.S. Marshals outside Kavanaugh’s home—the houses of all nine Supreme Court justices are being protected after the leak of a draft opinion spurred an increase in threats of violence and protests—and walked down the street. After texting with his sister, he called 911 on himself and was taken into custody by local police without incident.

Roske was found with a pistol, ammunition, a speed loader, a chest rig, a belly band holster, a black face mask, burglary tools, and other items.

Roske told authorities after he was arrested that he planned to break into Kavanaugh’s home and kill the justice before committing suicide.

Roske said he was driven by fears Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, would vote to strike down Roe v. Wade, as the leaked draft opinion indicated. The finalized opinion has not yet been released.

The nation’s top court does not say when it will release certain opinions, though it alerts the public that opinions will be released on certain days. The court is releasing opinions on Thursday and Friday.

Roske also said that he thought Kavanaugh would soon rule against a New York law that makes it difficult for people to get a permit to carry a gun outside the home. The law forces people to prove they have a need to carry the weapon, which attracted a challenge from the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

Roske said he found Kavanaugh’s address online.

If a justice dies or retires, President Joe Biden would choose a replacement. Biden’s first pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson, chosen to succeed retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, was approved by the Senate in April.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.