Washington, D.C. — Today the House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 3229, bipartisan 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. The legislation passed Committee by voice vote.
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.), chief sponsor of the legislation, praised today’s Committee passage of the bill.
Chairman Goodlatte: “In recent years, we have seen increased threats and even assassinations of federal judges. While any threat to a member of the Federal Judiciary is unacceptable and must be dealt with in the strongest manner possible, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk for federal judges.
“Today the House Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan legislation to ensure federal judges continue to have the ability to restrict the public availability of their home addresses. I applaud Representative Jeffries for his work on this legislation which is critical to ensuring 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 an important step to ensure the independence of our judicial branch to rule freely, fairly, and without fear of retribution. As a tireless advocate for government transparency, I appreciate the appropriate balance this bill strikes between the public’s safety and transparency interests to ensure our judges, who’ve often been targeted and even murdered following tough cases, can safely do their jobs.”
Representative Jeffries: “An independent judiciary is fundamental to our constitutional democracy and equal justice under the law. H.R. 3229 will protect judicial officers from threats, harm and harassment by those who would seek to compromise the integrity of our judicial branch. I am pleased that the Judiciary Committee was able to expeditiously advance this important and time-sensitive legislation.”
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.