Are we witnessing an upsurge of violence against government officials?
Congress is holding hearings on the January 6 riot, during which the physical safety of the Vice President was threatened by a mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Nicholas John Roske was arrested at 1 am outside the home of Justice Kavanaugh, while carrying a suitcase containing a Glock 17 pistol, a tactical knife, ammunition, hammer, crow bar, and other equipment useful for breaking into a home and murdering its inhabitants,
America has experienced a long history of political violence. Four American presidents – Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John Kennedy – have been assassinated. Six others have survived assassination attempts: Franklin Roosevelt, days before he took office; Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford (twice) while in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, after he left office while campaigning for another term.
Fifteen members of Congress have been killed while in office, and an additional thirteen have been seriously wounded.
But this history of violence has involved the executive and legislative branches. Only one Supreme Court member has ever been the victim of actual violence.
The event occurred on August 14, 1889 and involved Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field. The assailant was a lawyer and former judge, David S. Terry. The characters and the circumstances are worth recounting, as they provide some perspective for the current turbulence.