What kind of security do Supreme Court Justices receive?

Supreme Court Justices wield enormous power, and often make very controversial decisions. I’d be shocked if they didn’t receive death threats. Do they have any kind of security detail protecting them? What about other Federal Judges in lower courts?

Apparently not much security for the justices. Breyer was mugged in 2004, then robbed on a Caribbean vacation in 2012, then had his house broken into around the same time.


The US Marshall service handles security for the court and the justices. It’s up to the individual justices to ask for additional protection.

They just walk around unescorted, like ordinary folk? That seems so weird to me.

Is there any history of attempted assassination of SCOTUS justices?

That’s the same as rank and file members of Congress. Unless there’s evidence of a specific threat only leadership positions get security details. The shooting at the Republican baseball team practice last year only had security presentbecause of Rep Scalise’s leadership position as the Majority Whip.

My understanding is that it is, in fact, the Supreme Court Police who are responsible for protecting the Supreme Court building, the justices, any staff, and “official guests”. See 40 USC 6121. The Supreme Court police is under the jurisdiction of the Marshal of the Supreme Court, who is an employee of the Supreme Court (or somehow an Article III employee). The USMS (which is a component of DOJ and the Executive Branch) is generally responsible for protection at other courthouses and of other federal judges.
To answer the OP’s question anecdotally, I attended a talk by Justice Scalia about 15 years ago and he arrived in an OGV and was attended by a small protective detail; although I’m not sure from what agency.

Only Stephen Johnson Field, who was challenged to a duel by one judge and then 30 years later, attacked by another. Because of his series of disagreements with all sorts of political enemies, Field was being guarded by a U.S. Marshall, who killed Field’s attacker.

Wikipedia lists four federal judgesover the last 40 years who were assassinated, but none of them SCOTUS.

You are correct but their jurisdiction is only within Washington. The Marshals would handle any security for travels outside of DC. But it’s not automatic it must be asked for.

It is entirely possible Judge Kavanaugh was packing heat throughought his testimony. Federal judges can, and you can’t get more Federal Judge-y than SCOTUS Judge, but I don’t know about that.

I presume they could request a carry permit like any other citizen, but perhaps denied immediate license because maybe unlike Federal Judges they have multiple legal armed protection services.

See https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=388324

Being British, I would have that reaction if they were indeed guarded.

I’m also surprised, because not only are they very important, but the method of their selection provides a political incentive to assassination. Kill the President, and he’ll just be replaced by the Vice President, who presumably has similar policies, but kill a Justice, and he’ll be replaced by someone nominated by the President, who might have very different views.

Perhaps most well-known – Woody Harrelson’s father murdered a federal judge.

Most people who are willing to kill for political reasons want high-profile targets. And a President is way more high-profile that some random Justice that most people can’t even name.

You may be right about the psychological motivations of potential assassins. Could it simply be that we don’t see Justices on the news nearly as much as we see Presidents? They don’t allow cameras in the Supreme Court. Somehow this lets them fly under the radar?

From my personal contacts:
Treated a Justice in the ER-no security
Saw Kennedy at brunch in a semipublic restaurant (private club)-no security
Saw Breyer at religious services-no security
Had talk by RBG at religious service-5 security personnel, looked like secret service-one watching her the whole time, the others fanned out to the four corners of the room and watched all the entrances

It’s pretty clear who the most important one is.

And one of them was just an unfortunate bystander who was probably completely unknown to the killer.

I’m surprised some anti-abortion activists haven’t offed a few liberal judges when the GOP control the senate and presidency so some anti abortion justices can be appointed.

That’s hardly necessary. Literally dozens of federal judges have been nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Republicans in the Senate.

Not necessarily. When someone is speaking at a public event, that’s been advertised, that’s a more likely target than when they’re just quietly going about their business.