Officials rebuke senator’s delay in passing bill protecting judges’ rights as he asks for extension to Congress

Federal legislation crafted in response to the targeted attack on U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’s family has not received unanimous support from members of the U.S. Senate.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul objected to the legislation on Dec. 16 and asked for the bill to extend the same privacy protections proposed for appointed federal judges to elected members of Congress.

The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 is named for Daniel Anderl, the 20-year-old son of Salas who was killed at their North Brunswick home on July 19. He was a 2018 graduate of Saint Joseph High School in Metuchen.

Salas’ husband, Mark Anderl, who is a criminal defense attorney, was seriously injured in the attack carried out by suspect Roy Den Hollander, who posed as a FedEx delivery driver before ambushing the home.

Den Hollander allegedly targeted the family because of his disdain for Salas and her role as a federal judge, according to reports. Identified by authorities as a “men’s rights” attorney, he had previously argued a case before Salas and used publicly available information to create a dossier on the judge, according to reports.

Den Hollander was later found dead by suicide, according to authorities.

Salas has since made personal, public pleas for greater privacy protections for federal judges.

“My husband, Mark, and I would like to thank Gov. Murphy and all the men and women of the New Jersey State Legislature for enacting this trailblazing legislation,” Salas said in a statement on Nov. 20.

“We hope this law can be a steppingstone to improving the security of my sisters and brothers who serve as federal judges throughout the country. Nobody should be forced to endure the kind of pain my family has experienced ever again.

“Together we can work to ensure that all members of the judiciary (federal, state and municipal courts) can perform their duties without fear of retribution or harm. Daniel used to say, ‘Mom, I love talking with you.’ I know Daniel is listening now and he is smiling down on us today because he knows that with this (New Jersey) bill signing, we are doing our part to ensure that his death will not be in vain,” Salas said.

The federal 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, home or other address displayed on property tax 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 and commercial data collectors to create safeguards to protect the personal information of active, senior, recalled or retired federal judges and their immediate family.

The legislation would also authorize the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) to monitor and assess online threats, analyze complaints and address acts of aggression and violations, and authorize funding for the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) to expand its current capabilities.

It would also provide funding to states in the form of grants to enforce the prevention of data brokers from selling or trading personal information.

“I promised Judge Salas her son’s death would not be in vain, and we may not have achieved it tonight with (New Jersey) Sen. (Cory) Booker, but we will make this happen, hopefully sooner rather than later, but we are going to make this happen,” New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who recommended Salas to President Barack Obama for appointment to the federal bench in December 2010, said in a prepared statement after the Dec. 16 Senate hearing.

Salas sits on the bench in the District of New Jersey, Newark.

“America’s federal judges must be able to render rulings without fearing for their lives or the lives of their loved ones. We must better protect federal judges’ personal information from those who would seek to do them harm. That’s exactly what the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 will do,” Menendez said in the statement.

After the attack on the Anderl-Salas family, Menendez and Booker pledged to draft legislation to better protect federal judges and their families. They unveiled the legislation in September, standing outside Newark Federal Court, and worked with the judiciary to address its concerns and to incorporate many of its guiding principles into the final bill, according to the statement.

The congressional sponsors are also U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill and co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, both of New Jersey.

“This legislation is about standing up for the independence of our federal judiciary and the safety of all those who serve it,” Menendez said in the statement, requesting unanimous consent on Dec. 16. “This is a common sense bill. It will save lives and I urge my colleagues to approve it without delay.”

Earlier in the week, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal led a national, bipartisan coalition of 51 Attorneys General in sending a letter to Congress urging passage of the proposed legislation.
Because of the large number of Attorneys General who signed the letter, the legislation is receiving the formal endorsement of the National Association of Attorneys General, according to a statement provided by Grewal’s office on Dec. 14.
“Now more than ever, we need to protect public servants from threats and violence targeted at them simply for doing their jobs,” Grewal said in the statement. “Nobody should suffer that kind of abuse, let alone the kind of pain inflicted on Judge Salas and her family. I hope the federal government will join New Jersey in taking action to ensure that members of the judiciary can perform their constitutional duties without fear.”
During the Dec. 16 Senate hearing, Paul said he reserved the right to object to unanimous support because although he agrees judges need federal protection, he has been active in the issue of affording the same protection to members of Congress for the past few years.

“I really think this is important that we protect addresses for our judges, but it’s also important we do (the same) for our elected officials,” Paul said, citing the shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and 18 others while the Congresswoman was meeting with constituents in 2011, and the shooting of U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise during practice for a charity baseball game in 2017.

Paul said those incidents “should have been a wake-up call” to better protect members of Congress and the people around them.

The senator said his amendment to the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 is minor and does not lessen anything about the proposed legislation. Paul said he prefers to make simple changes such as extending protections to the legislative branch and preventing personally identifiable information from being sold online by data brokers.

Other members of Paul’s caucus were not in favor of additional funds for the U.S. Marshall’s Service.

The North Brunswick mayor and council adopted a resolution on Dec. 17 rebuking Paul’s blockage of the bill.

“It is unconscionable that Rand Paul and other members of his caucus would delay measures protecting individuals and the families of those serving our nation as members of the judiciary when the tragic loss of Daniel Anderl is a glaring example as to why we need additional security measure,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said in a prepared statement.

“How ironic for a group of politicians who in large part vilified a segment of our society as a ‘Me Too’ movement suddenly are crying ‘me too.’ The right thing to do would be to move Daniel’s Law forward and address the other concerns in separate legislation. We want to make it clear that we stand behind a grieving mother and father, the healing of our township and passage of legislation that goes a long way to accomplishing that and more.”

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com