November 29, 2022

There were two security incidents at the U.S. Supreme Court in the same hour Wednesday, CBS News has learned. 

Minutes before guns were seized from a Georgia man’s van near the Supreme Court complex Wednesday afternoon, a California man was arrested for claiming he had “higher authority” and attempting to unlawfully enter the high court’s north door.  

According to newly filed court documents obtained by CBS News, Melvin Marbrey, 73, told Supreme Court police he was at the Court to meet with Chief Justice John Roberts and “would not leave (until) he was allowed into the building.”  According to a police affidavit, Marbrey falsely identified himself as having “higher authority” and showed a congressional report as so-called proof. He told officers, “I’m going inside or you do what you have to do.”

Marbrey was arrested at 3:09 p.m. Wednesday, minutes before a separate security scare, in which police said they found guns in the car of Tony Payne, 80, who was arrested and facing weapons charges. Marbrey’s charging documents do not immediately indicate any connection between the men.

During a court appearance Thursday afternoon, Marbrey said he planned to return to the Supreme Court upon his release. During the proceedings, Marbrey invoked sovereign citizen language, in which he questioned the authority of the court and the Justice Department. When asked to identify his defense attorney by the court, Marbrey responded, “My attorney is the attorney general of the United States. It’s Merrick Garland. This court has no authority.”

The judge issued a stay to order him away from the Supreme Court, to which Marbrey responded, “I’m not going to stay away. I’m going there now.”  He added, “I’m asking you release me right now.”

Meanwhile, Tony H. Payne, whose white minivan was allegedly stopped or searched, at approximately 3:43 p.m. on Wednesday was expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court Thursday afternoon. 

Several guns were recovered and three people were detained when authorities investigated the vehicle near the Capitol, U.S. Capitol Police said Wednesday. The three told officers they were there to deliver documents to the Supreme Court, Capitol Police said.  

Payne, 80, of Tunnel Hill, Georgia, was later arrested on weapons charges, Capitol police said, and his adult grandson was turned over to D.C. Disability Services. A woman who was with them was detained and released.  

Payne is expected to face three charges: unregistered firearm, unregistered ammunition, and carrying a pistol without a license, Capitol Police said.

According to Capitol Police, officers noticed a white van was illegally parked and a police dog alerted the officers, prompting a search. One of the men told officers he had guns, which are still banned on Capitol grounds.

Officers found two handguns and a shotgun in the vehicle, Capitol Police said, along with a pipe and containers. A hazmat team was also called in to search the van.  

The nearby Supreme Court was not open on Wednesday, but the area has been under heightened security. An eight-foot fence that had been erected around the court after several justices received threats this spring was  removed in August.  

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