Do Supreme Court justices need more protection?

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer - along with his wife and some guests - were held up at a vacation home in the Caribbean. No one was hurt but about $1,000 cash was stolen. Senior correspondent John Miller talks to Charlie Rose and Erica Hill.
Getty Images/Tom Sloan

Questions about the safety of Supreme Court justices have been raised in the wake of a robbery involving Justice Stephen Breyer.

Breyer, 73, his wife Joanna and two guests were held up last week at a vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis. Officials say an intruder with a machete took about $1,000 in cash. No one was hurt.

Now some are asking if justices should have special protection when they travel overseas on personal business or vacation.

Justice Breyer robbed at knifepoint in Caribbean

The Breyer theft was either a burglary gone badly or an outright home invasion, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller said on "CBS This Morning"

Miller said it's unknown whether the intruder knew Breyer's professional identity.

Justices are protected by the U.S. Supreme Court Police and when they make public appearances they're guarded by United States Marshals. However, when they travel on their own on vacation, they generally travel on their own if it's not on court business, Miller said.

"I think they will have to look at this (policy)," Miller said. "You have two or three Supreme Court justices who have been robbed or mugged in the past. Only one that was ever attacked and anything that had to do with his job back in 1982."

Miller was referring to Justice Byron White who was attacked in July 1982 while giving a speech in Utah.

Miller added, "The key indication here is there's no indicator their robber actually knew who he was robbing other than that they watched that house, they saw activity, and thought there might be a score there. But the FBI has dispatched the legal attache who's assigned to the embassy in Barbados there. He's working with the local police to try to identify these robbers, bring them in and learn the answers to those questions. If he needs more help, he can call the Miami field office and they'll send the cavalry."

The U.S. Marshals and the justices have been in a push-and-pull over the issue of protection, Miller said.

Miller explained, "The U.S. Marshals would be glad to provide that protection, but the justices, when they go on vacation, don't want to be traveling on vacation with four burly guys standing in flowered shirts in the corner when they could be with themselves and their families and low-key."

However, that may be just what happens looking forward.