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US Supreme Court seeks security funding to protect justices, homes

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LA Post: US Supreme Court seeks security funding to protect justices, homes
Reuters
Nate Raymond
March 04, 2024

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court is seeking $19.4 million in federal funds to bolster security for the nine justices and assign protection of their homes to its own police force rather than the U.S. Marshals Service, citing "evolving" risks faced by the nation's top judicial body.

The proposal was included as part of an overall $9.4 billion budget request posted online last week to provide funding for the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.

That funding would include $5.8 million to expand the security activities of the Supreme Court Police, its in-house security force, and $13.6 million to let the court's police take over the duties currently served by the Marshals Service of protecting the justices' homes.

Those proposed security-related expenditures help explain why the court is seeking to increase discretionary spending by about 21% to $146.3 million in the 2025 fiscal year over the prior year, according to the budget document.

"Ongoing threat assessments indicate that there are evolving risks that require continuous protection," according to the budget request.

The rest of the judiciary is seeking $805.9 million for court security, citing "the significant increase in threats against federal judges."

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

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

The judiciary released its 2025 budget request even though Congress has yet to finalize funding for the government for the current fiscal year.

Lawmakers last week passed the fourth stopgap measure since Oct. 1 to keep the government funded. Funding for part of the government will now run out on March 8 absent legislation and for other parts of the government including the judiciary on March 22.

Congress in 2022 approved legislation to expand police protection to the families of the justices and senior officers of the court following the leak of a draft of the ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that had legalized abortion nationwide. The draft and final ruling prompted 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 December, a Florida man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Chief Justice John Roberts.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham)

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