TRENTON – Seven House members from New Jersey voted against legislation expanding security for Supreme Court justices, saying those protections should also apply to all federal judges and their families.

The seven – Josh Gottheimer, Tom Malinowski, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires and Bonnie Watson Coleman – were among 27 lawmakers, all Democrats, who opposed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act. It passed overwhelmingly in a 396-27 vote.

“We fully support expanding security for Supreme Court justices and their families,” six of them said in a joint statement that Payne didn’t join. “We also firmly believe that those expanded protections should apply to federal judges and their families, who face similar threats, with less protective resources.”

The group referenced the July 2020 shooting at the North Brunswick home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in which her son, Daniel, 20, was killed and her husband injured by someone who had appeared in her courtroom.

“We stood alongside our friend Judge Esther Salas and voted no today because we could not support passing legislation that continues to ignore the pleas of all federal judges for greater security,” they said. “Federal judges regularly face threats to their safety as well as their families due to their work to protect our communities and our democracy. Tragically, too often these threats are followed by actual violence.”

“We believe that Congress had a strong opportunity to improve protections for all federal judges, but the Senate abdicated its responsibility when it ignored our calls for the inclusion of the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act in this bill,” they said. “We will not give up fighting for the necessary safeguards our federal judiciary deserves.”

The New Jersey Republican State Committee criticized the group for opposing the bill, suggesting they want the justices to be “systematically intimidated.”

Watson Coleman responded that the bill doesn’t go far enough.

The current bill first gained traction after demonstrations were held outside Supreme Court justices’ homes following news that the court might soon decide to overturn abortion rights. It gained added urgency when a California man with a gun and other gear was arrested at Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Maryland home, after going there allegedly intending to kill him.

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The other three Democrats (Andy Kim, Donald Norcross and Frank Pallone) and two Republicans (Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew) in the New Jersey delegation supported it, as did Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, both D-N.J., last month.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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