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Senate Judiciary Chair Urges Action on Stalled Security Bills

June 9, 2022, 2:25 PM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Congress needs to act on a pair of bills aimed to protect federal judges.

At a committee markup Thursday, Durbin said legislation (S. 2340; H.R. 4436) blocked by Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would shield federal judges’ personal information online is directly responsive to the kind of threat facing Supreme Court justices. Paul wants the bill to include members of Congress.

Durbin said the House also must act on legislation (S. 4160) already passed by the Senate that would protect justices’ families. Some House Democrats have sought to expand the bill to cover court employees’ families.

Republican lawmakers have urged quick action on the bill to protect the familes of justices after a California man armed with a handgun was arrested outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home Wednesday. Nicholas John Roske, who said he wanted to kill Kavanaugh, faces federal attempted murder charges.

If House lawmakers “want to expand it as I understand they are thinking about, for goodness sakes do it. Do it on a timely basis. Let’s get into conversation to get this passed once and for all,” Durbin said.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he talked with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Wednesday night and again Thursday morning and thinks there’s a path forward on the bill.

Coons said extending protections to Supreme Court staff at the discretion of the marshal is “perfectly reasonable,” but Congress needs to act to protect people serving in the judiciary.

“It’s my hope that if something comes back here from the House, that we’ll take it up and pass it quickly,” Coons said.

The bipartisan bill to shield federal judges’ personal information online was spurred by the fatal shooting of a federal judge’s son at their New Jersey home in 2020.

The bill would prevent data brokers from being able to knowingly sell, trade, license purchase, or provide judges’ personally identifiable information, such as addresses.

Roske told investigators that he found Kavanaugh’s address online, according to a criminal complaint.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at sstern@bloomberglaw.com