New Jersey’s federal representatives restarted a push to bolster privacy protections for federal judges first undertaken in response to the attempted assassination of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas.
“No federal judge should ever have to live fearing that their commitment to serving the public could make their family a target,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-Newark), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “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.”
Last July, a gunman dressed as a Federal Express delivery driver knocked on the door of Salas’s home. When her husband, Mark Anderl, and their son, Daniel Anderl, opened the door, he opened fire, killing the younger Anderl and critically wounding the elder.
Daniel Anderl was 20 years old. Mark Anderl has since recovered from the shooting.
The measure, dubbed The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2021, would impose restrictions on the sale or dissemination of federal judges’ personal information, with criminal penalties for violators.
It would also boost funding to the U.S. Marshals Service, which provides protection for judges and acts as the enforcement arm of the courts.
“The threats against our federal judiciary are real and they are on the rise,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen). “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.”
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a similar bill, also named after Daniel Anderl, barring the release of home addresses and other personal information belonging to current or former judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
Companion legislation introduced at the federal level by Menendez, Booker and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) last year stalled in the Senate after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who sought to amend the bill to extend similar protections to members of congress.
Broader concerns among Republican members over additional funding to the Marshals Service, a point Menendez refused to cede ground on, also posed a roadblock to Senate passage. But last year’s push hasn’t deterred members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation.
“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,” Menendez said.
This year’s bill, like last year’s, is co-sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C). Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) joins Sherrill as a sponsor in the House.
“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” the congresswoman said. “It’s imperative we make clear that we will protect public servants who are doing their duty and living up to their oaths.”