New details regarding the attempted assassination of a New Jersey federal judge in July 2020 have made the threat posed by the alleged gunman, who committed suicide following the assault, all the more concerning.
U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, whose son was murdered and husband wounded in the targeted attack, revealed that her alleged assailant had also developed a plan to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, The Hill reported.
Salas claimed that an envelope was discovered in a locker owned by the assassin, an attorney named Roy Den Hollander, that contained personal information about Sotomayor and plans to kill her.
Plans to target Sotomayor
Salas shared the disturbing news during an interview with CBS‘ 60 Minutes that will air on Sunday. “They found another gun, a Glock, more ammunition. But the most troubling thing they found was a manila folder with a workup on Justice Sonia Sotomayor,” Salas said of the FBI’s search of Hollander’s locker.
“Who knows what could have happened? But we need to understand that judges are at risk,” she said. “That we put ourselves in great danger every day for doing our jobs.”
CBS noted that there has been a reported 400% increase in threats against federal judges over the past five years, ranging from threats of death or physical assault in phone calls, emails and letters to harassment and angry protests outside of courtrooms and homes.
A list of targets
The news of the assassination threat against Sotomayor is shocking but unsurprising, given that The New York Times reported in July 2020 that a list of a dozen other targets were discovered in Hollander’s rental car following his suicide.
That list included at least three other judges and two doctors among other individuals who the self-described “anti-feminist” attorney had personal scores to settle with.
It is believed that a recent diagnosis of terminal cancer was the spark that prompted Hollander to create the list and go on a killing spree seeking revenge, which included the murder of a rival “men’s rights” attorney in California just days prior to the assassination attempt against Salas.
Trump called for more protections
In response to the increased threat level, the U.S. Marshals have requested additional manpower and funding, and Salas has urged Congress to pass legislation granting additional protections to members of the federal judiciary.
Just days before he left office, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling for additional protections for federal judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials, as well as their families, including easier access to concealed carry weapons permits and increased protective measures from the Marshals Service when faced with threats.
Trump had specifically cited the assassination attempt against Salas that killed her son, as well as the increase in threats against federal officials and their families, as the justification for his order.