Within hours of blocking key provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, federal district court judge Susan Bolton received hundreds of threats at her court offices.
U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said the judge has been “inundated” with the threats.
“About 99.9% of the inappropriate comments are people venting. They are exercising their First Amendment rights, and a lot of it is perverted. But it’s that 0.1 percent that goes over the line that we are taking extra seriously.” He added, “It is policy at a juncture like this to increase security at the courthouse.”
The Marshall’s office would not say if any threats were coming from recognized hate groups, or if Bolton had received threats at her home. Nor would they discuss any extra security measures, which U.S. marshals routinely provide federal judges.
“It is policy at a juncture like this to increase security at the courthouse. Beyond that, I cannot discuss security matters,” Gonzales said.
Bolton is not the only official facing hostility following Wednesday’s ruling. On Thursday, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) was forced to close his district office in Yuma, AZ, after “finding a window shattered and a bullet inside.”
In April, on the same day SB-1070 was signed into law, Grijalva — an outspoken opponent of the legislation who had called for boycotting the state — closed two district offices “after a man called the Tucson office twice threatening to ‘come in there and blow everybody’s head off,’ and then go to the U.S.-Mexico border to ‘shoot any Mexicans that try to come across.’”
Local militiamen have organized “combat veterans, with kill records, to camp out and patrol” the U.S.-Mexico border, and Neo-Nazis in Arizona now “patrol the border” aiming to “kill or capture immigrants.” Besides immigration-related violence, “threats of violence against lawmakers” also “spiked in the immediate aftermath of the healthcare reform battle in Congress,” when vandals targeted the offices of pro-reform members and threatened to “assassinate” the lawmakers’ children.
Last year, The Arizona Republic reported that the number of threats nationwide against federal judges and prosecutors, plus jurors and witnesses, more than doubled in the past six years, from 592 to nearly 1,300. Gonzales indicated at the time the federal judges in Arizona get three to four threats a week. One federal prosecutor in Tucson revealed she had round-the-clock protection for 10 days after one threat. Federal judges reported that some threat-makers posted personal information about them on websites.
Gonzales said the increase in threats coincides with more online use and the proliferation of blogs. On Thursday he said his agents were aware of hateful threats made about Bolton online since her ruling against the Arizona law. A quick scan shows numerous sites and discussion forums where Bolton is called traitor or other unprintable names.
“I talk with her every day. She’s tough as nails. She takes this as all part of her job,” Gonzales said.
What a wonderful country we live in where citizens can threaten the life of a federal judge for ruling in favor of the Constitution they claim to love, where Neo-Nazis can “patrol” the state’s border with Mexico, and where “militia” groups can recruit former members of our military with “kill records” to “guard” their state’s border. What a wonderful country indeed. Something tells me there’s a lot more to the right’s desire to overturn the Fourteenth Amendment than just immigrant’s kids.