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About the Committee
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About the Committee
Senate Judiciary Committee
Hearing Room

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC
One of the original standing committees of the U.S. Senate, the Committee on the Judiciary was first authorized on December 10, 1816. The broad jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee continues to evolve with each new Congress. In the 19th century, the Committee's focus included legislation related to criminal justice, the expansion of the judicial system to new territories and states, and judicial salaries. Today, the scope of the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction has broadened to include terrorism, human rights, immigration law, intellectual property rights, antitrust law, and Internet privacy. The Committee is also tasked with considering the President's nominees for federal judgeships, including Supreme Court justices. One of the most important functions of the Committee is to provide oversight of the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Senator Dudley Chase of Vermont became the first Chairman of the Committee on December 13, 1816. Before legislative limits were established, Senator James O. Eastland of Mississippi was the Committee’s longest-standing chairman, serving 22 consecutive years from 1956 through 1978.  There are currently 18 members serving on the Committee, 10 members of the majority party, and eight members of the minority party. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is the Committee's Ranking Member. Throughout American history, the Committee has played a critical role in pivotal historical developments, including the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the confirmation of the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, and the confirmation of the first female Supreme Court Justice. For more about the history 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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