The Supreme Court's annual budget request has increased by $12.4 million over the last fiscal year for enhanced security in the wake of recent threats, including the arrest last year of a would-be assailant near Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Maryland home.
The judiciary asked Congress for $5.9 million to expand the Supreme Court Police's protective detail for the justices and $6.5 million to improve the physical security of the Supreme Court building.
"On-going threat assessments show evolving risks that require continuous protection," budget documents read. "Additional funding would provide for contract positions, eventually transitioning to full-time employees, that will augment capabilities of the Supreme Court police force and allow it to accomplish its protective mission."
The request follows the June arrest of an armed California man who allegedly traveled across the country to Kavanaugh's home to kill him. Taken into custody when he reportedly told officials he wanted to kill Kavanaugh, he was later charged with attempted murder of a United States justice.
The incident came after the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion from the high court that showed the justices seemed poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Upon its official release, Kavanaugh joined the conservative majority opinion, which ended federal abortion protections and returned the question of abortion to the states to decide.
In response, Congress passed additional funding to expand security to include the family members of justices and any other officer of the bench, if needed.
A 7-foot security fence was also put up around the court, which barricaded the building for almost four months.
Republicans have, at times, accused Democrats of not taking the justices' security seriously in light of the Kavanaugh assassination attempt and other threats.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, clashed with Attorney General Merrick Garland over the Justice Department's response to the protests outside the justices' homes last year.
In his year-end report on the judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts thanked Congress for helping to ensure the safety of judges.
"The law requires every judge to swear an oath to perform his or her work without fear or favor, but we must support judges by ensuring their safety," Roberts wrote. "A judicial system cannot and should not live in fear."
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, judges were subject to 4,511 threats and inappropriate communications in 2021, up from 926 in 2015.
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