Back in July 2020, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’ only son Daniel Anderl was shot and killed and since then she’s been on a mission to protect the privacy of federal judges. Her husband, Mark Anderl, and her son were shot by a disgruntled right-wing attorney in their New Jersey home after celebrating Daniel’s 20th birthday. Though her husband survived, her son died protecting his father after he was shot in the chest. Through her pain, Judge Salas worked toward creating legislation that protected the personal information of federal judges and their family members culminating in the creation of the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act. Congress passed the law named after Salas’ son, setting an important precedent in safeguarding the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their close relatives.
“By passing this crucial legislation, Congress has taken a solid step in preserving our democracy by protecting federal judges and their families,” Salas said in a press statement Monday along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.), adding the law “will undoubtedly make it harder for violent individuals to find judges’ addresses and other personal information online.”
The senseless attack, committed by men’s rights lawyer and self-proclaimed anti-feminist Roy Den Hollander, occurred because the perpetrator was able to access Judge Salas’ home address along with other personal information. During the party, Hollander posed as a FedEx delivery driver, rang the doorbell, and immediately killed Daniel and shot Mark Anderl three times before fleeing. Before the attack, Hollander had spewed hate against Salas online, calling her a “lazy and incompetent Latina judge” in an online essay, and in a misogynistic book he authored years after she presided over a civil case in which he provided representation.
Following the attack, Salas and her husband reached out seeking help from three New Jersey federal representatives and Democrats: Sens. Menendez and Booker, and Rep. Mikie Sherrill. Moved by the murder of her beloved son and Judge Salas and her husband’s wishes to honor their late son’s legacy, Sen. Menendez said in a press conference last Monday that he and the other representatives vowed to them that they would not give up on getting justice for the murder of her son until they were able to bring the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act to pass.
“We can’t forget that Judge Salas was not just targeted for being a judge. She was targeted for being a woman on the bench, and specifically one of only two Latina judges in the District Court of New Jersey,” Menendez added. “Judge Salas and her family were victims of a horrific hate crime.”
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act was ultimately passed on Thursday in Congress as part of the annual defense authorization bill. It prohibits the selling, trading, transferring or purchasing of federal judges’ personal information online, including their addresses and contact information. Additionally, it allows federal judges to request their information be taken down if it is publicly available and authorizes the U.S. Marshals Service to hire additional analysts, security specialists and other personnel to help protect federal judges. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law shortly, NBC News reported.
“My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure, and I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain,” she previously said in a statement following the murder.