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About the Committee
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The Committee Chairman
Chairman Leahy
Patrick J. Leahy,

Previous Chairmen

Patrick J. Leahy of Middlesex, Vermont, was elected to the United States Senate in 1974.  Leahy is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position he has held since January 2007.  He also served as Chairman from June 2001 through January 2003.

A graduate of Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont (1961), he received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center (1964).  He served for eight years as State's Attorney in Chittenden County, Vermont.  He gained a national reputation for his law enforcement activities and was selected (1974) as one of three outstanding prosecutors in the United States.  Leahy is also a senior member of the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees, and serves as the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations.  He also serves on the Rules Committee.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Leahy is a major force in the myriad issues the committee handles.  He is a key advocate for government transparency and for the public’s right to know.  A former prosecutor, he is a champion for those serving in law enforcement, for first responders, and for the victims of crime.  In 2007, he introduced and guided to passage the OPEN Government Act.  The law imposes real consequences on Federal agencies for missing the 20-day statutory deadline for Freedom of Information requests, and established a new agency to oversee and ensure government FOIA requests and policy.

Leahy is a longtime protector of civil liberties.  Leahy authored and advocated legislation to restore the right to habeas corpus for all Americans, a right that was stripped in the 2006 Military Commissions Act.  He has spoken out in the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was wrongfully detained by U.S. authorities and eventually sent to Syria, his country of birth, where he was tortured for more than a year before eventually being released.    Soon after taking the gavel again in 2007, Leahy created the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law.

Leahy is a leader in enacting laws to protect privacy rights, copyright protections and freedom of speech on the Internet.  He is the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus.  He has been a fierce defender of privacy and civil liberties protections in legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act.  He is a leader on several privacy issues, including Internet and medical records privacy.  Leahy held Congress’s first hearing in 1994 on privacy concerns relating to electronic medical records. 

Leahy has also led congressional efforts to protect American innovation and invention.  He has tirelessly sought reforms to the nation's antiquated patent system to help protect America's role as a global innovator.  And he has worked to protect American products from being sold illegally in the online marketplace.

Leahy is the chief sponsor of the Innocence Protection Act, which addresses flaws in the administration of capital punishment.  Parts of Leahy's death penalty reform package, which were enacted in 2004, will reduce the risks that innocent people are executed by providing for post-conviction DNA testing and better access to competent legal counsel.

As a senior member of the Senate, Leahy is one of few Senators to have voted on the confirmation of every sitting member of the current Supreme Court.  During his time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Leahy has overseen the confirmation of hundreds of judicial and executive nominations.

Patrick Leahy has been married to Marcelle Pomerleau Leahy since 1962.  They have a daughter, two sons, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and five grandchildren.  The Leahys live on a tree farm in Middlesex, Vermont.

To read more about previous Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee, click here.


Did You Know?  Harlan Fiske Stone was the first Supreme Court nominee to testify at a Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1925.  John Harlan was only the fourth nominee to testify (1955).  Harlan's 1955 confirmation marked the beginning of the current practice of each Supreme Court nominee testifying before the Judiciary Committee.

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