FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen behind a fence who stands around the building on Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Washington. One proposal pending in Congress would provide additional security measures for the justices and another would offer more privacy and protection for all federal judges. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
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A proposal pending in Congress would provide additional security measures for the justices and another would offer more privacy and protection for all federal judges. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

By Mark Sherman and Jessica Gresko, AP

A man armed with a machete once broke into Stephen Breyer’s vacation home in the Caribbean and took $1,000. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had her purse snatched on a Washington street. David Souter was assaulted by several men while he was jogging.

Supreme Court justices have not been immune to violent crime. But this past week’s late-night incident at Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s suburban Washington home, where authorities said a man armed with a gun and knife threatened to kill the justice, reflects a heightened level of potential danger not just for members of the nation’s highest court, but all judges.

One proposal pending in Congress would provide additional security measures for the justices, and another would offer more privacy and protection for all federal judges.

Round-the-clock security given to the justices after the leak of the draft opinion in a major abortion case may well have averted a tragedy.

But the situation had much in common with other recent incidents that ended with the shooting death of a former judge in Wisconsin last week and the killing in 2020 of the son of a federal judge at their home in New Jersey. Troubled men, harboring a warped desire for vengeance and equipped with guns, turned their threats into action.

“We’re seeing these threats increase in number and intensity. That’s a sign. That’s a signal,” said U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, whose son was killed nearly two years ago in the attack that also wounded her husband.

Kavanaugh’s would-be attacker is Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, California, authorities said in charging him with the attempted murder of a justice. Clad in black, he arrived by taxi outside Kavanaugh’s Maryland home around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

He spotted two U.S. Marshals who were guarding the house and walked in the other direction, calling 911 to say he was having suicidal thoughts and also planned to kill Kavanaugh, according to court documents. Roske said he found the justice’s address on the internet.

Nicholas John Roske
Nicholas John Roske

When police searched a backpack and suitcase he was carrying, they said they found a Glock 17 pistol, ammunition, a knife, zip ties, duct tape and other items Roske said he was going to use to break into the house. He said he bought the gun to kill Kavanaugh.

Roske told police he was upset by the leaked draft opinion in the abortion case and by the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and believed Kavanaugh would vote to loosen gun control laws, according to documents filed in federal court in Maryland.

Last week, Wisconsin authorities said Douglas Uhde, 56, shot John Roemer, a former county judge, in a targeted attack against a judge who had once sentenced him to prison. Roemer was found zip-tied to a chair. Uhde had shot himself and later died.

In July 2020, lawyer Roy Den Hollander showed up at Judge Salas’ home posing as a FedEx delivery person. Den Hollander fatally shot Salas’ 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, and wounded her husband, Mark Anderl. The judge was in another part of the home at the time and was not injured.

Den Hollander, 72, was a men’s rights lawyer with a history of anti-feminist writings. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the day after the ambush, when police said they found a document with information about a dozen female judges from across the country, half of whom are Latina, including Salas.

Authorities believe Den Hollander also was tracking Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Salas said in a televised interview last year, because they found a manila folder with information about Sotomayor when they searched a locker belonging to Den Hollander.

Over the years, Supreme Court justices have called on Congress to provide more money for their security. But at the same time, the justices often shrugged off protection when it was offered. When Justice Antonin Scalia died on a hunting trip in Texas in 2016, for example, he did not have a security detail with him.

In recent years, the court has stepped up security for the justices. The court routinely refuses to discuss protection for the nine justices, but Justice Amy Coney Barrett said earlier this year that she was not prepared for how much more extensive security is now than when she worked for Scalia in the late 1990s.

Sotomayor likes to walk among guests at her public appearances, often joking about the armed officers who are there to protect her. “The guys up here. The big guys with stuff around their waist and things. They’re here to protect you from me,” she said to laughter at an event this year. “They get nervous if you get up unexpectedly. … Please don’t make them nervous.”

Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor poses for a photo with a student who asked her a question as she walks through the crowd in attendance at Brown University. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the House would take up a bill with bipartisan support that already has passed the Senate that would expand protection to the members of the justices’ immediate families.

Gabe Roth of the court reform group Fix the Court said in his view the justices “need Secret Service-level protection, which has only become more obvious this week. I’ve said it for years.”

A separate bill, named in memory of Salas’ son, would provide more privacy and protections for all federal judges, including scrubbing personal information from the internet, to deal with mounting cyberthreats. The U.S. Marshals Service, which protects about 2,700 federal judges and thousands more prosecutors and court officials, said there were 4,511 threats and inappropriate communications in 2021, compared with 926 such incidents in 2015.

The legislation, also widely supported by lawmakers in both parties, has been blocked by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who wants it to apply to members of Congress as well.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the bill’s author, said the Kavanaugh incident and Roemer’s death in Wisconsin make plain the need for the legislation. “Our bill is the only existing proposal to protect the personal information of judges and their families,” Menendez said in an email.

A similar bill in the House has not even gotten a hearing.

“We talk a lot about what can be done. How about we stop arming the public with information they are using to kill us? How about we do that?” Salas said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

The internet has made it much easier to find personal information pertaining to judges, and everyone else.

But even before the digital age, judges were sometimes the targets of people who harbored grudges about their treatment in the criminal justice system. In a book, retired Texas Judge Susan P. Baker details 42 judges, including three at the federal level, who were murdered or otherwise met suspicious ends in the 20th century.

In the past 17 years, three close relatives of federal judges have been killed in attacks at the judges’ homes, including Salas’ son. In 2005, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow returned from work to find her husband and mother shot dead in the basement of her Chicago home. The killer was a homeless electrician who had lost a medical malpractice suit in her courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, who heads the office responsible for federal courts administration, said the incident at Kavanaugh’s house is just the most recent reminder that “threats against judges are real and they can have and have had dire consequences.”

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42 COMMENTS

  1. I hate pessimism, but between the Court Packing Threats and that the Democrats threatening the 6 GOP Appointed SCOTUS Justices, NYC Carry Law is either upheld entirely or we get a narrow and meaningless strike down.

    The ruling will mandate “Shall Issue” but allow NYC to impose other onerous restrictions that dissuade people from even trying to bother getting a CCW.

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      • My rated for all audiences bottom page 2 sentence post was moderated and tossed for no reason. That’s all while the above off topic sales post which doesn’t bother me a bit gets a pass. I am not alone, others whose opinion I want to hear have complained about unwarranted moderation.

        On the other hand…It should be obvious sneaky, nasty nice Gun Control zealots post articles attempting to reason with you so you’ll see things their way. When you do not comply they get frustrated angry and come back with a different more nasty nice, pretty please article. Once they see what they are trying so hard to sell will not sell then they blow a gasket and send their jack booted thugs to confiscate your guns. You have to know all the time exactly what nasty nice Rats are up to. After all there is no telling what people who have cow over seeing a Pop Tart Gun are capable of.

        • One of my comments was “held for moderation” for several hours yesterday. This has gotten absurd, to the point that I now only read about half of TTAG’s posted articles, and even then only comment on half of those.

          TTAG was my first gun-related stop every day for three or four years. Now it’s the second on the list, and some days I don’t come here at all because I just don’t want to deal with the frustration of seeing my comment(s) ghosted.

        • Literally minutes after I posted the above, I commented on another fresh article from this morning…and it was held for moderation again.

        • Haz, what other site do you frequent?

          It might be time for a mass migration to that other site.

          Do you think we could get everyone (except dacien, albert, and a select few) to move over?

          Could you imagine what this comment section would look like if we all abandoned it?

    • If you show up at someone’s house from another state with all the tools needed for a B&E, are armed with a knife and a gun, and have expressed a desire to kill that person, attempted murder seems a reasonable charge to me. Still, this one is nuttier than most Democrats.

      • Conspiracy to commit maybe, but he ratted himself out before he ever got there. Definitely nuttier than a squirrel turd.

      • I think that the bicycle lock he had around his neck may have impeded the oxygen supply to his head… not that it probably would have required much.

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  2. Forget it. No protection for Justices until SCOTUS strikes down “may issue.” There’s no reason we should help them unless and until they protect us.

    • While I agree with the sentiment, Ralph, I have to point out that this has much larger ramifications than even the demented would-be assassin probably considered.

      Why pack the court when you can simply kill off a couple of those pesky Constitutionalist Justices and let Sleepy Uncle Joe appoint super Liberal Progressive judges to replace them and pollute the Supreme Court for the next 30-40 years?

      Hope Hillary doesn’t read this.

  3. The rich, who got there by brainwashing people through influencing and advertising, pay for their own private security.

    The political class, who got there by brainwashing people through influencing and advertising, extort from us to pay for their own security. Security which sees us as the threat by the way.

    Our police get trained to not intervene.

    Our means to defend ourselves gets attacked maligned and restricted.

    This really is like a wide flyover shot from some dystopian movie with a beautiful, safe, clean central metropolis for the wealthy and elites surrounded by a giant wall (we paid for) which in turn is surrounded by sheet metal, plywood and cardboard shanty towns where we hide from homicidal and rape happy mental patients and trap rats for sustenance and the favorite past time is arguing with each other over which group of wealthy elites panders to our predicament better.

    • I would have more to say about this one, except there is some nice juicy roadkill out front, and if I don’t hurry possum may beat me to it!

    • Does anyone think threatened justices will rule against our rights if threatened or harassed??? I don’t. Especially Thomas. Could one imagine the outrage if one of the slovenly Dim gal justices were threatened?!?

    • Lol
      There is not ONE rich person at all anywhere in the world that has managed to convince me that Facebook/Twitter are worthwhile things to do.

      If your so easily takin in by their brand of shiny needs and shallow flattery then the fault does NOT lie with someone else…whatever their bank account might be.

  4. Perhaps being boxed in by a socialist democRat Party lynch mob will motivate milquetoast justices to value the 2A from the point of being boxed in by what are criminals who belong in jail.

    • Agreed. They don’t need private security, they just need to fucking carry personal protection like the rest of us. It’s amazing how these people think everyone should just worship the ground they walk on and they should be worry free about pissing off half the country on a regular basis – and that is for either side of the fence. Do they not understand the risks of their job? I know if I was paid that much to do their job, the last thing I’d need to worry about is how to protect my family or myself. Imagine not being prepared as a government official… Lol. Our country is so fucked and is British in rule once again. “Alexa, Make these lower class poor’s disperse from my travel route”. *Gunships circle and I picture Game of thrones vibes where slaves carry a personal cart around the city.

      • I mean gated armed patrol you ain’t allowed with their own support chain like fire and police and shopping and doctors etc communities and you knew that when you typed

  5. It wouldn’t be so much an issue if the Democrat left were not ginning up and stocking the flames of fear. It isn’t any different from what they did with Covid or with Trump. It’s unnecessary BS and it’s creating problems.

    These people need to be removed from power.

  6. I’ve testified in county, circuit and federal court. About 1/3 of the judges I knew well enough to know carried a handgun under their robes. At least the pro 2A guys did.

  7. I’m of four minds on this.

    1. Judges cannot do their job and there basically cannot be a justice system if that system can be easily influenced by threats. +1 for security.

    2. Realistically it doesn’t matter if there’s security or not since the threats are basically backed by .gov. When the White House can take the official position that they’re encouraging illegal protest and the Admin’s DOJ then does absolutely nothing about it (even though mostly it’s a slap-on-the-wrist sort of charge) then it really doesn’t matter either way, the implicit threat is coming from a place where the kind of security doesn’t much matter. -1 for security.

    3. I’d have to ask how this plays going forward. I’ve made no particular secret of the fact that I don’t think our current iteration of government will last much longer. The arithmetic just isn’t there on half a dozen fronts. Hell, even Kim Dotcom is bearish and thinks the USD is completely and utterly cooked and that this is SO bad that world markets will collapse in the near term due to the USD dying. His scribbles put the US as utterly bankrupt by like $66 Trillion. (I’m personally not that bearish.) In such a situation I don’t think security for judges matters much. +/- 1, for security a wash.

    4. After 2020, it’s clear that certain people really don’t face much in the way of consequences. Heck, the charges now being considered in San Diego against a bunch of Antifa (apparently someone needs to tell Nadler that the DA and Grand Juries believe that Antifa is, in fact, quite real and quite criminal) are secretive as fuck just to ensure that something actually happens. Against that backdrop, and combined with #2 how much does security actually do? If they don’t DRT the threat does the person face any real consequences after capture? These questions obviously would be on the mind of the judiciary, meaning that security may not have the desired effect covered in #1. If judges come to the conclusion that many disaffected liberals have come to, that Biden presides over a form of Anarcho-Tyranny, why would the judges trust .gov provided security at all?

    At this point it seems to me like much of the damage has been done and I’m not sure some token “security” is going to matter.

  8. What about chuckie schumer has he been ” Red Flagged ” for threatening two sitting Supreme Court Justices.

  9. Another “what’s good for thee and not thou” moment. Judges and other “important” government simps get protection (i.e. can use guns for protection) but the rest of us have to just beg and hope we can use something…

  10. Anyone working for the government(city, state, federal) is better then someone who doesn’t. It’s just the way it is.
    Feel the pain mortal.

  11. I’m not a huge fan of continuing to offer special protection to more and more government officials when regular citizens have to hope and pray that they don’t get mugged in places like baltimore, NY and DC.

  12. More security for our judges. It is already illegal to protest and intimate a Federal judge for numerous decades now. Why are they not arresting these groups and prosecuting them? Garland and Biden is the reason why.

    • Its not illegal to protest a federal judge, its illegal to protest a federal judge in a threatening or dangerous manner.

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