Alarming Surge: More Than 400 Federal Judges Targeted in Threats, Highest Numbers in Years

Washington, D.C. – The number of threats against federal judges in the United States soared in 2023, with federal investigators responding to over 400 incidents, according to statistics from the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) obtained by CBS News. The figures reveal a significant increase from previous years, with only 179 incidents investigated in 2019 and 300 in 2022. It is important to note that these statistics pertain to the number of threats that were investigated, and it is possible that individual judges received multiple threats.

The targeting of federal judges gained increased attention in 2023, following a criminal threat against a judge presiding over a 2020 election-related case involving former President Donald Trump. The judge received explicit threats through a voicemail, in which a Texas woman allegedly stated, “We are coming to kill you… You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it.” The woman has been charged and pleaded not guilty to making these threats.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who oversaw the aforementioned case, also faced a “swatting” incident in January. During this incident, emergency services in Washington, D.C. received a fake call about a shooting at Chutkan’s home address. Chutkan had been assigned additional security measures due to her involvement in the high-profile case against Former President Trump.

Notably, federal prosecutors were also targeted, with 155 threats investigated in 2023 compared to 93 in the previous year. This marked a notable increase in threats against Justice Department attorneys after a decrease to 68 in 2021. The USMS data reflects a five-year period between 2019 and 2023.

Public officials have also reported instances of swatting incidents. Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, as well as GOP Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Brandon Williams of New York, have all claimed to be targets of such incidents.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed concern over a “disturbing” rise in threats against public officials, including hoax bomb threats that prompted evacuations of government buildings nationwide. Garland emphasized the severity of these threats, stating, “They threaten the fabric of our democracy.”

The judiciary is not the only branch of government facing threats. Members of the Colorado State Supreme Court, who ruled that Trump was ineligible to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot due to his conduct surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, faced violent threats. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case.

Lastly, in 2022, a California man was charged with attempting to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

These incidents highlight the increasing dangers public officials face and raise concerns about the preservation of democratic processes and the safety of those tasked with upholding the law.