Judges urge lawmakers to bolster judicial security after threats surge

U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, whose son was killed and husband wounded in an attack meant for her, is leading calls for the Senate to pass a bill to bolster judicial security.

Why it matters: Threats to federal judges have increased 400% in the past five years. There were some 4,200 threats against federal judges last year, per CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

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  • The House-passed Capitol Security Bill would allocate $157.5 million for judicial security, including security cameras and 1,000 additional deputy marshals.

  • “The last judicial security upgrade was 15 years ago — after Chicago Judge Joan Lefkow came home one night and found her husband and mother shot dead by a disgruntled plaintiff,” CBS reports.

Driving the news: “60 Minutes” interviewed Salas and U.S. District Judge James Robart, who received death threats online after temporarily halting former President Trump’s first travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations.

  • Salas is calling for judges’ personal details to be removed from the internet, noting to CBS’ Bill Whitaker that the FBI found a locker in New Jersey belonging to her son’s killer containing weapons and a “manila folder with a workup” on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

  • “This fact has to wake us up,” said Salas, who now has 24/7 protection from U.S. marshals.

Of note: Robart received over 40,000 messages after Trump posted a tweet calling him a “so-called judge” — prompting an investigation and U.S. marshals to be deployed to his house, Robart told Whitaker.

  • Suzanne Spaulding, the former head of cybersecurity operations in Democratic and Republican administrations, told Whitaker that thousands of the threats originated from Russia.

  • If Russian President Vladimir Putin “can undermine a significant segment of the population’s willingness to accept a court’s decision, then he can cause chaos in this country,” she said.

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