The US judiciary would get $112.5 million in stopgap spending to “harden” federal courts against potential threats, money it initially sought after the Capitol riot.
Inclusion of the appropriations in the legislation proposing to fund the government through mid-December aims to avert a potential government shutdown. It comes as courts continue to underscore their security concerns to Congress in a bid for more funds.
“We appreciate that Congress recognizes the substantial and ongoing physical security needs of the Judiciary,” Director of the Administrative Office of the US Courts Roslynn Mauskopf said in a Wednesday memo to the judiciary about the stopgap that Bloomberg Law obtained.
Without elaborating, Mauskopf said the funds would be used to “harden federal court facilities.” She said in the “unlikely event” the funding bill wasn’t enacted by midnight Friday, the judiciary could “sustain paid operations” for at least two weeks.
Appropriations for courthouse security were previously included in a version of an emergency security funding bill that passed the House in 2021, but they were ultimately removed in the version passed by the Senate.
Mauskopf said at the time the judiciary was “extremely disappointed” and pointed to security needs after the murder of a federal judge’s son and increasing threats against the judiciary.
US District Judge Esther Salas’s son was killed and her husband was wounded by a disgruntled lawyer at their family home in 2020. Threats and inappropriate communications against judges and other judiciary personnel topped 4,500 in the 2022 fiscal year increasing from 4,200 in the previous period, according to the US Marshals Service, which provides protection for the third branch.
A separate bill (S. 2340; H.R. 4436) named after Salas’s son would shield the personal information of federal judges. That legislation has stalled in Congress despite having bipartisan support. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has attempted to get it passed by unanimous consent three times but all have been blocked by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who wants to see lawmakers included in the bill.