Man Who Allegedly Tried to Kill Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh Indicted, Faces Life in Prison

Man Who Allegedly Tried to Kill Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh Indicted, Faces Life in Prison
Law enforcement officers stand guard as protesters march past Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home in Chevy Chase, Md., on June 8, 2022. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

The California man who authorities say admitted to flying across the country to try to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is facing life in prison if convicted after a grand jury returned an indictment on June 15.

Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, was indicted on one count of “Attempt to Assassinate Justice of United States,” according to a court filing.

The punishment for the count, a violation of 18 U.S. Code Section 351(c), is a maximum of life in prison.

Roske was initially charged with attempting to murder a U.S. judge. If convicted of that charge, a judge could have sentenced him to no more than 20 years in jail.

Roske flew to an airport in the Washington area and took a taxi to Chevy Chase, Maryland, on June 8, according to court documents. He was dropped off outside Kavanaugh’s home at approximately 1 a.m.

After spotting two U.S. deputy marshals standing on the property, Roske turned and walked down the street. After texting with his sister, he called 911 on himself, reporting that he had weapons and was going to try to hurt Kavanaugh.

Montgomery County police officers rushed to the scene and took Roske into custody without incident.

Roske admitted in two separate interviews with law enforcement that he went to Kavanaugh’s home with the intention of breaking into the residence and killing the justice. He said he planned to kill himself afterward.

Roske stated that he was motivated by fears that Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, would rule against Roe v. Wade in the upcoming decision in a case brought by the state of Mississippi, and against gun control laws, referring to a separate decision due before the nation’s top court finishes its current term.

Charging documents listed what items Roske had with him, but the indictment identified additional items and went into more detail on those previously listed.

The document gives the serial number for the Glock 17 gun Roske possessed while revealing that in addition to having two magazines with approximately 10 rounds each of 9mm ammunition, there were approximately 17 additional rounds of ammunition in a plastic bag. It also lists Roske as having, among other items, a Streamlight TLR4 light and laser; a ComfortTac belly band holster, used to carry a gun for easy access; an ASP-Micro TM160 monocular that’s capable of thermal imaging; a black face mask; and a lock-picking kit.

Roske initially appeared in federal court in Greenbelt on the day he was arrested. He and his lawyer decided not to ask a judge for release pending trial.

The next appearance hasn’t been scheduled yet, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek Barron said after the grand jury indictment was issued.

Barron praised the FBI, the Montgomery County Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Supreme Court Police for their work on the investigation.

Also on June 15, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other senators urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to start prosecuting people for protesting outside the homes of Kavanaugh and other justices who are expected to strike down Roe v. Wade as per a leaked draft opinion.

“Somehow, the situation is only escalating. Not only did the illegal picketing resume mere hours after the assassination attempt on Justice Kavanaugh, but reports are that those seeking to intimidate the Justices at their homes plan to expand their campaign of harassment to their children’s schools. Enough,” the senators wrote (pdf).

Garland, a Biden appointee, speaking with reporters in Buffalo, New York, didn’t directly address the increasing pressure from Republicans to prosecute protesters for violating a federal law that prohibits protesting outside the homes of judges with the intent of influencing them.

Garland said the Department of Justice (DOJ) “takes extraordinarily seriously any violence—any criminal threats of violence, intimation, harassment of the justices or of any government officials” and said he had ordered around-the-clock protection for the homes of all nine justices before Roske’s alleged attempt on Kavanaugh’s life.

The DOJ has declined to comment when asked why federal officials aren’t enforcing the law.

Garland told lawmakers in a recent missive that he couldn’t confirm or deny whether the agency was probing possible violations of the law in question, invoking DOJ policies on avoiding talking about ongoing investigations.

The senators responded: “Is White House policy keeping you from bringing charges? If not, tell us. Or tell our staff. You can respond by letter or you can schedule a phone call or even a briefing.

“If there is a good reason why you aren’t charging these obvious crimes, explain it to us. We want to understand. The situation is too dire and too important for more meaningless boilerplate about Justice Department policies.”