Feb 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge whose son was killed says attacker also targeted Sonia Sotomayor

Photo of Sonia Sotomayor seated and speaking
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Photo: Paul Marotta via Getty Images

U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, whose son was killed and husband wounded in an attack meant for her, says the shooter also targeted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in an interview that will air Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Driving the news: In a search of her assailant's locker, the FBI found a gun, ammunition and a manila folder with a "workup" on Sotomayor, Salas explains.

Why it matters: "Who knows what could have happened? But we need to understand that judges are at risk," Salas says. "That we put ourselves in great danger every day for doing our jobs." 

  • Threats to federal judges have risen 400% in the last five years, CBS News reports.

What they're saying: "Female judges didn't bother me as long as they were middle age or older black ladies," the assailant, Roy Den Hollander, a lawyer who tried a case before Salas before the attack, wrote in an autobiography published on his personal website.

  • "Latinas, however, were usually a problem — driven by an inferiority complex."
  • In a separate passage, Hollander wrote that Salas was a "lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama."
  • Of note: Both Sotomayor and Salas are Latina.

The big picture: Since her son's death, Salas has pushed to pass legislation that would scrub judges' personal information from the internet.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) saw backlash last year after telling Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch that "you won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."
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