Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of H.R. 3229, legislation to protect the safety of federal judges by extending the authority of the Judicial Conference to redact sensitive information contained in their financial disclosure reports.
Chairman Goodlatte: Security issues are a reality for the Judicial Branch. Security of witnesses, family members, and the accused require specific procedures and even building designs. These security needs are often able to be identified and planned for in advance. However, the most critical security issue, the security of judges themselves, is one that has proven more challenging. Although judges hear high-profile criminal cases in which the defendant is an obvious security risk, it is not always a criminal defendant who might pose a risk to a judge. A disgruntled litigant who has lost a civil case may be even more of a threat to a judge than a known gang member who is smart enough to know that threats on a federal judge, never mind actual efforts toward that end, are a guaranteed way to extend one’s sentence for decades.
Thus the work of protecting federal judges is a challenging mission. Congress has allocated resources to provide protection of judges by the Marshals Service which seeks to minimize risks to judges. Public availability of the home address or other locations associated with a judge or a family member is an undue risk. In response to these concerns, Congress in 1998 authorized federal judges to request that certain information be redacted from their financial disclosure forms subject to the input of the Marshals Service and approval by a review committee of the Judicial Branch. This authority was extended in 2005 to cover the information of family members who are unfortunately also at risk of disgruntled litigants.
Several federal judges and family members have been assassinated in recent years. The legislation before the Committee today would extend the existing redaction authority that is about to expire at the end of this calendar year by ten years to December 31, 2027. I have joined Mr. Jeffries, Subcommittee Chairman Issa, and Ranking Member Conyers as a cosponsor of this important legislation.
I urge my colleagues to support this important judicial security legislation.