Menendez, Booker, Sherrill Unveil Bipartisan Bill to Protect Privacy, Safety of Federal Judges & their Families
Bill named for Daniel Anderl, son of Judge Esther Salas murdered in targeted attack on their NJ home
NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) today gathered outside Newark Federal Court to outline bipartisan, bicameral legislation crafted in response to the fatal, targeted attack on U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas’s New Jersey home. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020—named for Salas’s son who was murdered during the violent home invasion—would safeguard the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate families that could leave them vulnerable to potential threats.
“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. “It is only fitting that we name this important bill after her late son, Daniel. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 will help protect the personal information of federal judges and their immediate family and prevent it from being used by anyone who wishes them harm. This is a commonsense bipartisan bill, it will save lives and I would urge my colleagues to pass it without delay.”
“No person who takes on the responsibility of serving as a federal judge should ever have to live in fear that they or their family could be targeted by someone who is able to easily access their personal information,” said Sen. Booker. “Judge Salas and her husband have gone through something that no parent should ever, ever have to endure. Today, we grieve with them and we stand with them as they honor the memory of their son Daniel with a commitment that this should never happen again.”
“We were horrified when we heard the news of the murder of Judge Salas’ son Daniel, and the shooting of her husband, Mark. Choosing to work in service to our country should not put anyone’s family in danger. No family should ever have to experience that,” said Rep. Sherrill. “And we hope that the action we are taking today will prevent this from happening again. Providing the United States Marshals Service, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and state and local governments with these tools will help law enforcement do its job and keep our federal judges safe.”
In July, 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 2020 would shield the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate family who share their residence, including home addresses, social security numbers, contact information, tax records, marital and birth records, vehicle information, photos of their vehicle and home, 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 commercial data collectors to sell, trade, license, purchase or provide judges’ personally identifiable information and authorizes the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (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 relief and a private right-of-action for violations of the law.
The bill would also authorize funding for the AO and United States Marshals Service (USMS) 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.
After the attack on the Anderl-Salas family, Sens. Menendez and Booker pledged to draft legislation to better protect federal judges and their families, and worked with the judiciary to address its concerns and incorporate many of its guiding principles into the final bill. The bill is supported by the New Jersey State Bar Association.
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 is cosponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.