US Marshals Service seeks $38 million for new judge security programs

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 10:29 AM

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – The U.S. Marshals Service is asking Congress for $38 million to fund two new programs aimed at bolstering judicial security in response to a rise in threats against federal judges and U.S. Supreme Court justices.

The two programs were tucked into the U.S. Department of Justice’s budget proposal unveiled on Monday and were part of the Marshals Service’s overall request for $4 billion for the 2025 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The budget request proposes using $28.1 million to create a new Office of Protective Services within the Marshals Service’s Judicial Security Division, which is tasked with protecting more than 2,700 sitting judges and managing courthouse security.

The service is seeking 53 new positions for the office, which “will develop a strong framework for fulfilling protective responsibilities for the federal judiciary,” including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Department said.

A Reuters investigation last month documented a sharp rise in threats and intimidation directed at judges who have been criticized by Republican former President Donald Trump after ruling against his interests in cases they were hearing.

Serious threats overall against federal judges rose to 457 in fiscal year 2023, from 224 in fiscal year 2021, according to the Marshals Service.

The Marshals Service is also seeking $10 million for a new grant program that provides funding to state and local governments to prevent the personal information of federal judges and their family members from being disclosed in government databases or registries.

That program was authorized by the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, legislation that was passed in 2022 that sought to allow judges to shield their personal information from being viewed online.

The bill was named for U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’ son, who was shot and killed at her home in New Jersey by a disgruntled lawyer in July 2020.

The Marshals Service’s request for $38 million in new judicial security funding is on top of $805.9 million the judiciary itself is seeking for court security and $19.4 million sought by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s request included funding to expand the security activities of the Supreme Court Police and to let the court’s police take over the duties currently served by the Marshals Service of protecting the justices’ homes.

The Marshals Service, when requested, also protects Supreme Court justices when they travel outside Washington.

The high court in 2022 overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had legalized abortion nationwide, prompting protests outside the homes of members of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority.

An armed California man was charged in 2022 with attempting to assassinate conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh after being arrested near his home. That man, Nicholas Roske, has pleaded not guilty in the case.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Paul Simao)