Washington, D.C. — The House of Representatives today approved by voice vote H.R. 3229, bipartisan legislation to protect the safety of federal judges. This bill, authored by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and a product of the House Judiciary Committee, extends the authority of the Judicial Conference to redact sensitive personal information contained in the financial disclosure reports of federal judges.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) praised House passage of the bill.
Chairman Goodlatte: “The work of protecting federal judges is a challenging mission. In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of threats against federal judges and their family members.
“Today the House of Representatives took an important step in addressing the security concerns related to federal judges being targeted by those who appear before them by passing bipartisan legislation to ensure federal judges continue to have the ability to restrict the public availability of their home addresses. This commonsense legislation will help ensure the safety of our Federal judges and their family members.”
Ranking Member Conyers: “Judges and judicial employees are often the subject of threats, harassment, and violence. A disgruntled litigant seeking to take revenge can learn of a federal judge’s sensitive personal information by requesting a copy of the judge’s financial disclosure report. H.R. 3229 is a bipartisan, commonsense measure intended to protect the safety of federal judges and judicial employees by allowing this sensitive information to be redacted from public financial disclosures. This bill will help those public servants who serve in the federal judicial branch avoid potentially life-threatening consequences.”
Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “This is a crucial measure to ensure the independence of our judicial branch to rule freely, fairly, and without fear of retribution. Judges shouldn’t have to worry about their family’s safety when ruling in tough cases. As a relentless advocate for government transparency, I appreciate the balance it strikes to ensure that the public’s safety and transparency needs are met so we can better protect our judiciary and allow them to safely do their jobs.”
Representative Jeffries: “The judicial branch is an important part of our democracy that must function free of coercion or unlawful interference. Accordingly, we must do everything possible to ensure the safety of federal judges and their families. The judicial redaction bill is an important part of this effort, and Chairman Goodlatte should be applauded for his leadership in this regard.”
Background: In response to security 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.
H.R. 3229 extends the existing redaction authority that is about to expire at the end of this calendar year by ten years to December 31, 2027.