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Justice Department charges woman over alleged threats to kill Texas judge in medication abortion case

The Justice Department announced charges Tuesday against a Florida woman who allegedly threatened to kill the federal judge in Texas who issued a major ruling that would’ve taken a key medication abortion pill off the market.

Alice Marie Pence, 67, of Port Charlotte, Florida, allegedly placed a phone call in March to a judge’s chambers in Amarillo, Texas, in which she threatened to kill the judge.

While court documents do not identify the judge by name, the only district judge in Amarillo is Matthew Kacsmaryk, who presided over a high-profile challenge to the US Food and Drug Administration’s two-decade-old approval of the medication abortion drug mifepristone. The court filings don’t say anything about Pence’s motivation for the alleged threats and don’t mention the abortion-related case.

Pence is charged with transmitting interstate threats and intending to influence a federal official by threat. She is scheduled for an initial appearance in court next week and has not yet entered a formal plea.

A lawyer for Pence is not yet listed on the court docket. The federal court in Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to court filings, the allegedly threatening call was placed one day after news broke in March that Kacsmaryk had scheduled a major hearing in the mifepristone case.

In April, Kacsmaryk suspended the FDA’s approval of mifepristone and a federal appeals court later affirmed some parts of his ruling. But the drug has remained available after the Supreme Court earlier this year signed an order saying access to it will be the same until all legal challenges are resolved. DOJ and a manufacturer of the drug have asked the justices to take up the case and overturn the court rulings that would roll back access to the drug.

Tuesday’s announcement comes as federal law enforcement officials face an increasing number of threats from the public. Other federal judges – including both the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case in Florida and his election subversion case in Washington, DC – have received death threats. Supreme Court justices have also faced increased threats, including one man charged with attempting to murder Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray have repeatedly warned about the rise in threat levels, and have reiterated their commitment to prosecuting those who make criminal threats.

Federal prosecutors also announced charges Tuesday against 44-year-old Daniel Ray Garcia for allegedly sending threatening letters to a federal judge in Lubbock, Texas. The judge is not named in court filings.

Garcia is currently being held in custody, and his lawyers have requested that he be evaluated by a medical professional to determine whether Garcia is competent to stand trial.

CNN has reached out to Garcia’s lawyer for comment.

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