With only three months left to the 117th Congress and a mere eight weeks when either or both chambers will be in session, the ABA is urging Congress to act swiftly and decisively to pass the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act (S. 2340 and H.R. 4436) so that it may be enacted into law before the end of the year. The Senate bill was introduced by New Jersey Senator Menendez, along with original cosponsors, Senators Booker (D-NJ), Graham (R-SC), Durbin (D-IL), Kennedy (R-LA), and Feinstein (D-CA). The House bill was introduced by Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and now has more than 110 cosponsors.
The bipartisan legislation is named after the son of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas who was murdered in the family home in 2020 by a disgruntled attorney who obtained the judge’s home address on the internet. Enactment of this legislation is urgently needed to preserve the ability of federal judges to impartially decide matters that come before them without fear of reprisal or physical harm to themselves or their families.
The legislation would provide federal judges with enhanced security by restricting online access to judges’ personally identifiable information, such as home addresses, car license plates, personal telephone numbers, and the location of schools attended by immediate family members; authorizing funding for state and local governments to adopt similar measures; and enabling the U.S. Marshals Service to hire additional trained personnel to anticipate and deter threats.
Long a concern of the ABA, the association has worked assiduously to improve and advance the legislation this Congress. It was featured as an advocacy issue during the last two ABA Days, the association’s annual, nationwide lobbying event that educates participants on topics before Congress of great concern to the legal profession and provides tools for effective digital and in-person advocacy. The ABA also has written numerous letters to congressional leadership and members of both chambers.
S. 2340 was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by unanimous vote last December, after incorporating an ABA-supported amendment expanding its coverage to include Article I judges. Despite the encouraging vote, attempts to bring the bill to the floor have stalled, in large part because of valid concerns that not enough is being done to strengthen security for members of Congress.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee markup, rather than delay action on the bill, committee members pledged to work together to address these concerns. After months of deliberation, Senators Klobuchar (D-ME) and Cruz (R-TX) are now circulating their bipartisan proposal to enhance security for members of Congress. The ABA hopes that this good-faith parallel effort, along with the rising number of credible threats against judges, will help galvanize Congress to pass this legislation promptly.
In a letter sent to members of the House on September 19, 2022, ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross said, “Congress must remain vigilant and do what is necessary to preserve and protect the ability of our federal judiciary to render impartial decisions and safeguard our democracy. The time to act is now, not after another tragic incident.”
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