After hammering out differences between companion bills, Congress sent legislation to the White House yesterday that would provide funding to improve the security of federal judges, courthouses, and court personnel. By a voice vote yesterday, the House passed an amended version of a companion bill that was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday.
The Court Security Improvement Act would establish new criminal penalties for the misuse of restricted personal information to threaten or harm judges and their families, witnesses, or court officers. The legislation also includes an additional $20 million per year over the next four years for the U.S. Marshals Service, which protects federal judges in court and on some off-site protection details.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking committee member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) sponsored the Senate bill, while House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) sponsored the House bill. “I urge the President to sign this vital legislation, introduced 11 months ago, without delay so that we can protect the dedicated judges and other personnel who serve as part of our nation’s justice system,” Leahy said yesterday. “The security of our federal judges and our courthouses around the nation is at stake.”
The White House has already expressed general support for the legislation, which was spurred by the murders of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother in Chicago by a disgruntled pro se litigant in 2005. For more details about the legislation and Lefkow’s views, read this Legal Times article.