Feinstein, Menendez, Booker, Sherrill, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Privacy, Safety of Federal Judges and their Families
Jul 14 2021
Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation to bolster efforts to protect the federal judiciary and safeguard the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate families. The bill, built on legislation first introduced last year, is crafted in response to the fatal, targeted attack on U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas’s New Jersey home and is being introduced at a time when threats against the judiciary are on the rise.
A report issued last month by the Department of Justice inspector general concluded that “the USMS [U.S. Marshals Service] does not have the resources or proactive threat detection capabilities that the USMS has determined it needs to meet its protective services obligations for USMS-protected persons, including judges.” “Security incidents” against federal judges rose 89% between 2016 and 2019, according to the audit.
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2021—named for Salas’s son who was murdered during the violent home invasion—is cosponsored by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and John Kennedy (R-La.). Bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives is cosponsored by Representatives Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).
“Public service shouldn’t put your life or your family’s lives in danger. Our bill better protects federal judges’ private information, making it harder for would-be attackers to track them or their loves ones down,” said Senator Feinstein.
“The threats against our federal judiciary are real and they are on the rise. We must give the U.S. Marshals and other agencies charged with guarding our courts the resources and tools they need to protect our judges and their families. I made a personal commitment to Judge Salas that I would put forth legislation to better protect the men and women who sit on our federal judiciary, to ensure their independence in the face of increased personal threats on judges, and help prevent this unthinkable tragedy from ever happening again to anyone else,” said Sen. Menendez, who recommended Judge Salas to President Barack Obama for appointment to the federal bench. “The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2021 is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that will save lives, and I would urge my colleagues in Congress to pass it without delay.”
“No federal judge should ever have to live fearing that their commitment to serving the public could make their family a target,” said Senator Booker. “Last year, our state grieved alongside Judge Salas and her husband following the tragic murder of their son Daniel. Now, it’s time for Congressional action to prevent such a horror from ever happening again. I’m proud to stand alongside Senator Menendez, Representative Sherrill, and my colleagues to advance this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will safeguard personal information and provide resources for the federal judiciary to enhance security for judges and their families.”
“What happened to Judge Salas and her husband was a heartbreaking tragedy. No judge should have to fear for their safety, or the safety of their families, because of public service to our country” said Representative Sherrill. “It’s imperative we make clear that we will protect public servants who are doing their duty and living up to their oaths. Our legislation would give the United States Marshals Service, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, state and local governments, and law enforcement the tools they need to help keep our federal judges and their families safe. Ultimately, it will save lives and make our communities safer.”
“I’m glad to support Senator Menendez’s efforts to provide more security for our federal judiciary,” said Senator Graham. “The tragic and senseless death of Daniel Anderl is a grim reminder of the problems our federal judiciary and their families face. I will do everything in my power to work with my colleagues to make sure Mr. Anderl did not die in vain.”
“Federal judges shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or their loved ones for simply doing their job,” said Senator Durbin. “We must take steps to shield judges from violent threats that are made more dangerous by the public disclosure of sensitive information about judges and their immediate families. No one should have to experience violent attacks or mourn the loss of family members like Judge Esther Salas or Judge Joan Lefkow. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act would make targeted reforms to safeguard information that can make federal judges vulnerable to such attacks.”
“Judges should never have to worry that doing their jobs will put them or their loved ones at risk, and this legislation will take important steps to help law enforcement keep federal judges and their families safe,” said Senator Kennedy.
“In order to bolster our ability to protect our federal judges and their families, we need to safeguard the personally identifiable information of our judges and optimize our nation’s personal data sharing and privacy practices,” said Representative Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to support the bipartisan Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act. Our federal judges will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence or assaults on our democracy, and we must do our part to keep them and their loved ones safe.”
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2021 was written in consultation with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), and DOJ. It authorizes funding for the federal judiciary to monitor and assess online threats, maintain records, investigate complaints and address acts of aggression and violations. It would also allow the USMS to hire additional intelligence analysts, deputy U.S. Marshals, and other personnel to ensure the agency is able to anticipate and deter threats to federal judges.
In July 2020, a man, posing as a FedEx delivery driver, went to the home of Judge Salas and opened fire, critically wounding her husband, Mark Anderl, and killing their 20-year-old son, Daniel. The gunman, identified by authorities as a “men’s rights” attorney, had previously argued a case before Judge Salas and used publicly available information to target the judge. Judge Salas later made a personal, public plea for greater privacy protections for federal judges.
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2021 would also shield the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate family, including home addresses, social security numbers, contact information, vehicle registration information and the name of the schools and employers of their immediate family members.
The legislation establishes guidelines for federal agencies, state and local governments and commercial data collectors to create safeguards to protect the personal information of active, senior, recalled or retired federal judges and their immediate family by:
- Prohibiting government agencies from publicly posting of judges’ personally identifiable information and allows judges to request the removal of their information within 72 hours if it is already posted;
- Creating a federal grant program for state and local governments to help cover costs to prevent the release of judges’ personally identifiable information from any agency that operates a database or registry that contains this information;
- Authorizing funding for state and local governments to create or expand programs to protect judges’ personally identifiable information, such as programs to redact information from tax, property and state motor vehicle records, among others, or the hiring of a third party to scrub the information from the internet;
- Prohibiting data brokers from knowingly selling, trading, licensing, purchasing or otherwise providing judges’ personally identifiable information and authorizes the AO to provide data brokers with a current list of federal judges and their immediate family members for the purpose of compliance and;
- Allowing injunctive or declaratory relief for knowing and willful violations of the law.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.