A California man arrested for threatening to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh is facing a federal charge of attempted murder, according to the Department of Justice. 

Nicholas John Roske, 26, of California, appeared before Judge Timothy J. Sullivan at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland Wednesday afternoon to face the charge. 

Brett Kavanaugh wears blue tie

FILE: Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh stands before a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Dressed in a green long sleeve shirt and dark pants, Roske told Judge Sullivan he understood why he was in court and that he has not had any alcohol or drugs in the past 24 hours. 

Asked if he understood what was going on, Roske replied: "I think I have a reasonable understanding. I don't think I'm thinking clearly." 

Roske admitted to having taken medication within the past 24 hours. After conferring with his attorney, public defender Andrew Szekely, Roske told Judge Sullivan he understood what was going on. 

Roske was identified in a criminal complaint charging him with the attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice, was dressed in black when he arrived by taxi just after 1 a.m. outside Kavanaugh's home in a Washington suburb.

Roske had a Glock 17 pistol, ammunition, a knife, zip ties, pepper spray, duct tape and other items that he told police he would use to break into Kavanaugh's house and kill him, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in Maryland. Roske said he purchased the gun to kill Kavanaugh and that he also would kill himself, the affidavit said.


Roske, 26, told police he was upset by a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case. He also said he was upset over the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and believed Kavanaugh would vote to loosen gun control laws, the affidavit said.

Protest Kavanaugh Home

Demonstrators in support of reproductive rights protest outside of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, near Washington, U.S., May 7, 2022.  (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

When he got out of the taxi, Roske was spotted by two U.S. Marshals who are part of round-the-clock security provided to the justices following the leak of the draft opinion last month. But Roske was only apprehended after he called 911 in Montgomery County, Maryland, and said he was having suicidal thoughts and planned to kill Kavanaugh, having found the justice's address online. Roske was still on the phone when Montgomery County police arrived on the scene, according to the affidavit.

"This kind of behavior is obviously behavior we will not tolerate," Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters Wednesday. "Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices of course strike at the heart of our democracy and we will do everything we can to prevent them and to hold people who do them accountable."

If convicted, Roske faces up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release. Roske affirmed  that he is consenting to detention at this time. A preliminary hearing has been set for June 22 at 4 p.m., but that could change if Roske is indicted in the meantime. 

Abortion protests at Justice Kavanaugh Maryland home

FILE: Police officers look on as abortion-rights advocates hold a demonstration outside the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on May 18, 2022 in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  (Photo by Bonnie Cash/Getty Images)

A Department of Homeland Security report said the draft opinion, leaked in early May, has unleashed a wave of threats against officials and others and increased the likelihood of extremist violence.

The pro-choice activist group, "Ruth Sent Us," tweeted earlier Wednesday it would be protesting in front of Kavanaugh's house. The group said it was "committed to non-violence" and sought to distance itself from "fundamentalists." 


There have been protests at the homes of Kavanaugh and other justices, as well as demonstrations at the court, where a security fence rings the building and nearby streets have been closed.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace, Jake Gibson, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.