After the leakage of a Supreme Court draft opinion last year, which indicated the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, concerned groups of demonstrators took to the streets near the homes of conservative justices.
Their distress was fueled by the realization that long-standing abortion rights precedent was now at risk. As protests intensified and tensions grew, the Supreme Court recognized the need for heightened security measures due to the significant implications and the “concerning communications” surrounding this contentious issue. Following the overturning of Roe in June 2022, the Supreme Court has expressed its intention to maintain the heightened level of security not only for the upcoming year but also for the foreseeable future, as reported by The Intercept. Additional funding was requested last year, allowing the US Marshals to provide enhanced protection to the justices.
Based on Business Insider’s article, while there has not been a substantial increase in threats to the security detail responsible for safeguarding the justices this year, the Supreme Court is actively seeking additional security agents to reinforce their existing defense. The leaked information prompted calls for increased security from lawmakers, and specific incidents, such as the arrest of Nicholas John Roske outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s residence, have raised concerns. However, no other attempts to harm a justice have been reported, and no arrests of protestors have been made.
According to the US Marshals Service’s FY 2022 Annual Report, the number of “inappropriate communications” or threats to the judiciary decreased from the previous year. Nevertheless, the Marshals have implemented comprehensive measures, including round-the-clock online threat screening and real-time research, in response to last year’s threats. To further enhance judge security in the next fiscal year, the Marshals have requested an additional $21 million, which would fund 46 new positions, including 42 additional Marshals.
Currently, the Supreme Court Special Security Officer Program comprises 400 US Marshals. The Marshals’ budget justification highlights the Roe decision as the primary reason for the increased security measures. However, the report does not cite specific threats to substantiate the need for the extra funding. Additionally, the Supreme Court has requested an additional $5.8 million to strengthen the Supreme Court Police in light of evolving risks and the necessity of continuous protection.
With ongoing threat assessments indicating evolving risks, the Supreme Court remains committed to providing a secure environment. The Court seeks increased funding to bolster security forces, transition contract positions to full-time employees, and enhance the capabilities of the Supreme Court police force to fulfill its protective mission.