Commercial data collectors would be prohibited from selling or purchasing personally identifiable information of federal judges under bipartisan legislation proposed in the House and Senate, answering a call from a judge whose son was slain in July at their home in New Jersey.
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020, named for the murdered son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, would also prohibit government agencies from posting personal information about judges and would authorize a grant program to help state and local governments prevent that information from getting online or removing it.
“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,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said at the announcement of the bill on Monday.
Booker is a co-sponsor with fellow New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), who appeared before Salas as a prosecutor, will introduce the House version.
The proposal bill also permits injunctive relief and a private right-of-action if a person or group violates the law, if enacted.
Menendez said he was hopeful the measure could be approved by the lame-duck Congress following the Nov. 3 election.
The legislation comes after the attack at Salas’ home in North Brunswick, N.J. A shooter, who authorities said had been involved in a case heard by the judge, dressed as a delivery driver shot and killed Salas’ son, Daniel Anderl, and wounded her husband, Mark Anderl.
Salas called for enhanced protections of judges’ private information, saying the now-deceased gunman “had a complete dossier” on her and her family, and used that information to target them.
The legislation also authorizes funding for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and U.S. Marshals Service for motoring and investigating online threats and hiring more marshals to protect federal judges. The federal judiciary has already asked for for $525 million in security-related funding following the attack.
Other lawmakers cited the attack for their own legislative proposals. Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; Tom Cotton of Arkansas; and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia introduced a bill in August that would allow federal prosecutors and federal judges to carry concealed firearms.