Mar 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Senators push to bolster security for state and local judges

Sen. John Cornyn, under the black ceiling of a TV studio room, wearing a gray suit and blue shirt.

Sen. John Cornyn. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

A bipartisan group of senators is introducing legislation to provide federal support for state and local judges' security, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Threats against public officials have been on the rise in recent years, with judges particularly fearful after a 2020 shooting at the home of Judge Esther Salas that killed her son and wounded her husband.

Driving the news: The Countering Threats and Attacks on Our Judges Act would establish a State Judicial Threat Intelligence Resource Center, according to a press release first shared with Axios Wednesday.

  • The center would provide technical assistance to state and local judges and court personnel, assess the security of judges' homes and offices and research best practices for judicial security.
  • The bill is being introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

What they're saying: "Any threat or attack against judges, their families, or court personnel is unacceptable, and more must be done to ensure they can do their jobs safely and live their lives without fear," Cornyn said in a statement.

  • "By establishing a resource center to identify and respond to bad actors, this legislation would ensure our nation's courts and their employees are protected and judicial independence remains intact."
  • Coons, in a statement, said, "Unfortunately, heightened polarization and partisanship has coincided with a spike in threats and attacks on members of the bench that endangers the independence of our justice system."

Zoom out: Congress passed a bill in 2022, also led by Cornyn and Coons, to expand U.S. Supreme Court Police protection to justices' families after a man was charged for attempting to murder Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Go deeper: Chief Justice Roberts raises concerns about judges' safety

Go deeper