U.S. Marshals Seek Millions to Safeguard Judges from Rising Threats

Threats against judges in the U.S. judicial system are on the rise, and U.S. Marshals are asking for increased security funding to protect them.

A Boost for the Marshals Service

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The U.S. Marshal Service is seeking a significant boost in security funds, asking Congress for $38 million to fund new security programs aimed at protecting federal judges, particularly the nine Supreme Court justices.

U.S. Justice Department Budget Proposal

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It is part of a recent budget proposal the U.S. Justice Department presented to Congress. The request was for $4 billion and included two new programs designed to bolster security.

53 New Positions

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The proposal also outlined plans to create 53 new positions in the U.S. Marshals Service, the federal judiciary’s enforcement and security arm.

“Fulfilling Protective Responsibilities”

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These positions will work to “develop a strong framework for fulfilling protective responsibilities for the federal judiciary,” according to the Justice Department.

New Office for Security Division

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$28.1 million will be put toward a new office as part of the agency’s judicial security division. This office will center on protective services for the more than 2,700 judges in the federal court system.

Security Expansion

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Another $19.4 million would be used to generally expand security and hand the protection duties for justice’s homes from the U.S. Marshal’s Service to court police. 

Keeping Personal Information Private

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One of the proposed programs includes a grant program that will provide funding to keep the personal information of federal judges and family members from being listed in publicly accessible databases and registries.

Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act

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It was authorized under the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, which was named after Daniel Anderl, the son of District Judge Esther Salas.

Lawyer and Murderer

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Anderl was shot and killed in his mother’s New Jersey home by Roy Den Hollander, a lawyer who had previously argued a case against Salas and became obsessed with her.

Dramatic Rise in Judicial Threats

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These measures come at a time when threats and intimidation tactics made against federal judges and justices have risen dramatically, as reported by Reuters.

Trump “Enemies” Targeted

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A majority of these threats have been made against justices who have been publicly criticized by Donald Trump, particularly those who have ruled against the former president’s interests. 

Budget Request Specifies

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This was made clear in the budget request report, which referenced the “significant increase in threats against federal judges,” and stated that “ongoing threat assessments indicate that there are evolving risks that require continuous protection.”

Threats Double in 2 Years

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Data from the U.S. Marshals Service showed that “serious threats” against federal judges had risen from 224 in the 2021 fiscal year to 457 in 2023. 

Threats Against Chief Justice

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One such example occurred in December last year when a man from Florida pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The man repeatedly threatened to kill Roberts in a voicemail left on the justice’s phone.

Return to 2022

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The last time such a significant increase was made to justice securities was in 2022 when President Biden signed a bill into law that would expand security to justice’s families. 

24-Hour Security for Justices

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That same year, Attorney General Merrick Garland, with the help of the Marshals Service, installed 24-hour security for all nine justices. 

Roe v Wade Fallout

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The move was deemed necessary after a draft opinion was leaked to the public, indicating that the landmark abortion case Roe v Wade was likely to be overturned. 

“Unacceptable and Dangerous”

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The court received a flood of threats that were slammed by Garland, who deemed them “unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy,” and promised to “take all appropriate actions to further enhance the security of justices and the court.”

“We Must Support Judges”

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Justice John Roberts also wrote in a 2022 annual court report, “The law requires every judge to swear an oath to perform his or her work without fear or favor, but we must support judges by ensuring their safety.”

Looking to October

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If approved, the budget should be confirmed in October at the start of the fiscal year, though Congress has not yet set the current budget cycle.

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