Bob Goodlatte

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Bob Goodlatte
Goodlatte Official.png
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Lamar Smith
Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
In office
May 31, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Larry Combest
Succeeded by Collin Peterson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Jim Olin
Personal details
Born (1952-09-22) September 22, 1952 (age 66)
Holyoke, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Maryellen Flaherty
Alma mater Bates College (B.A.)
Washington and Lee University (J.D.)
Religion Christian Science

Robert William "Bob" Goodlatte (/ˈɡʊdlæt/; born September 22, 1952) is an American politician and lawyer. He is currently the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation affecting the federal courts, administrative agencies and federal law enforcement entities. He concurrently serving as a member of the United States House of Representatives for Virginia's 6th congressional district, serving since 1993. A member of the Republican Party, Goodlatte's district represents Roanoke and also includes Lynchburg, Harrisonburg and Staunton.

A native of Massachusetts, Goodlatte attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, before graduating Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. He entered private practice before receiving the Republican nomination for his current congressional seat. He has been reelected a total of ten times, six of which was unopposed. Elected as the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee at the start of the 110th Congress in 2003, and during his tenure, he convened over 132 hearings and guided 38 bills to the President’s desk to be signed into law. He was elected as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 2013 and has notably rejected calls for the impeachment proceedings of President Barack Obama, and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen due to lack of substantive cause.[1][2]

Early life and education

Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the son of Doris B. (née Mentzendorff) and Robert Swan Goodlatte. His paternal ancestry includes English and Irish and his maternal grandfather was a Baltic German from Riga.[3] Goodlatte received a B.A. in political science from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1974. He also holds a Juris Doctor from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, received in 1977.[4]

Political and legal career

In his early professional career he served as a staff aide for 6th District U.S. Congressman M. Caldwell Butler from 1977 to 1979. Goodlatte went on to work as a lawyer in private practice from 1980 to 1993.[4]

U.S House of Representatives

Bob Goodlatte received the Republican nomination at the Republican District convention after Democratic Party candidate Jim Olin opted not to run for reelection in 1992. In the 1992 November general election, Goodlatte defeated Democratic candidate Stephen Musselwhite, who had defeated Olin's preferred choice at the district Democratic convention, with 60% of the vote. Goodlatte has been reelected ten times, often running unopposed. His most substantive opposition was in 1996, with Democratic candidate Jeff Grey, and again in 1998, with Democratic Roanoke mayor David Bowers who challenged him. In an overwhelmingly conservative district, Goodlatte turned back these challenges, with 67% and 69% of the vote, respectively. In 2008, he was challenged by Democratic candidate Sam Rasoul of Roanoke. Goodlatte garnered 62% of the vote. In 2010, Goodlatte was challenged by Independent Jeffrey Vanke and Libertarian Stuart Bain. Goodlatte won with 76.26% of the vote.[5]


In 2011, Republican Karen Kwiatkowski of Mount Jackson, Virginia, announced that she would challenge Goodlatte in the Republican primary set for June 12, 2012. This was Bob Goodlatte's first contested Republican primary. Kwiatkowski earned 34% of the Republican primary vote, with Goodlatte winning 66%.[6] He faced Democratic nominee Andy Schmookler in the general election and defeated him with 66% of the vote.[7]


Goodlatte speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference

Immigration Reform

As House Judiciary Chairman for the 113th congress, Goodlatte has contrasted the House approach to immigration reform from the Senate by requiring that the various issues be taken on a piece-by-piece basis with an emphasis on both border and interior enforcement measures. So far the House Judiciary Committee has passed four immigration related bills:[8]

  • H.R. 2278, the "Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act" (The SAFE Act)[9]
  • H.R. 1773, the "Agricultural Guestworker Act"[10]
  • H.R. 1772, the "Legal Workforce Act"[11]
  • H.R. 2131, the "SKILLS Visa Act"[11]

Balanced Budget Amendment

One of Representative Goodlatte's top legislative initiatives was his Constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. Goodlatte wrote and put forward both the "clean" Balanced Budget Amendment which had a higher chance of actually passing the House and the Senate as well as a version that makes it harder to increase taxes by requiring a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to raise taxes.[12][13] However, Representatives Paul Ryan, Justin Amash, David Dreier and Louie Gohmert voted against the "clean" amendment because it could have allowed taxes to be raised on Americans. Representative Ryan released a statement after the vote: "I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes. Spending is the problem, yet this version of the Balanced Budget Amendment makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”[14]

Bob Goodlatte voted to increase the U.S. debt ceiling seven times and has voted to pass budgets from Democratic as well as Republican administrations. He voted for Bill Clinton's Budget Act in July, 1997 and Barack Obama's Budget Act of 2011.[15][16]


Before his appointment as Ranking Republican of the House Agriculture Committee at the start of the 110th Congress, Goodlatte served as Chairman of the full Committee. He was elected to serve as Chairman of the full House Agriculture Committee in January 2003 at the start of the 108th Congress. He served as Chairman of the Committee throughout the 108th and 109th Congresses, convening 132 Full and Subcommittee hearings and guiding 38 bills under the Committee’s jurisdiction to the President’s desk to be signed into law. He has served on the House Agriculture Committee since first being elected to Congress in November 1992. Before becoming Chairman of the full Committee, Goodlatte served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department, Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. An active subcommittee chairman, he held fourteen hearings in the 107th Congress alone. The hearings covered a wide range of issues including implementation of the national fire plan, domestic nutrition programs, invasive species, and civil rights programs at the USDA. He served as a conferee on the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.

Goodlatte took a leadership role on issues such as welfare reform and forestry policy, working with his colleagues on the Agriculture and Resources Committees to introduce George W. Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative.


Goodlatte is the co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Internet Caucus, Chairman of the House Republican High-Technology Working Group, and Co-Chairman of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus.

Goodlatte has been a leader in Congress on a number of Internet and high-tech issues including encryption, piracy prevention, anti-counterfeiting, online service provider copyright liability, high speed data access, privacy, digital signatures, Internet tax moratorium, copyright term extension, H-1B visas, patent reform, cyber-squatting, Y2K litigation, class action reform, spam and spyware prevention and providing local television networks to rural areas on satellite systems.

Goodlatte is an original sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, H.R. 3261, introduced in the House's, Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet Subcommittee, which he Chairs. He is also a coauthor of the bill, as referenced by Chairman Lamar Smith,[17] Congresswoman Waters,[18] and Goodlatte himself[19] during Markup hearings for SOPA.

SOPA's critics charge that copyright owners are able to seek immediate recourse for copyrights violations through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as well as Title 17 of the United States Code. Technology engineers, website owners and venture capitalists charge that the bill will hurt Internet architecture, decrease tech industry job growth and unnecessarily burden and increase the costs of doing business for domestic website owners and operators. Free Speech advocates and conservatives charge that the bill centralizes authority at the executive branch, which might use it to prevent search engines and Internet Services Providers from delivering dissenting websites to customers; violates the First Amendment; establishes Internet firewalls; and hinders online users from sharing information.[20]

Goodlatte is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online gambling. In 2006, he sponsored H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[21] In September 2006, working with then Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, Goodlatte was a major House supporter of the Unlawful Internet gambliing Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act was passed at midnight the day Congress adjourned before the 2006 elections. Prior to it being added to the bill, the gambling provisions had not been debated by any Congressional committee.[22] The bill was made sure to exclude online gambling. They claimed moral reasons for pushing for a ban on Internet gambling, but critics charge that it was due to campaign contributions from Microsoft and Steam .[23]

Goodlatte sat on the 105th United States Congress and introduced NET Act on July 25, 1997, which removed the requirement of financial gain for criminal prosecution of copyright infringement.[24] NET Act was passed only after the House suspended the rules.[25]

On October 23, 2013, Goodlatte introduced the Innovation Act, a bill aimed at reducing frivolous patent infringement lawsuits by patent trolls.[26] The bill passed in the House on December 5, 2013.


On September 12, 2013, Goodlatte introduced the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Internet Tax Freedom Act to make permanent the ban on state and local taxation of Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.[27] Goodlatte wrote an op-ed in The Hill arguing strongly in favor of the bill. Goodlatte said that in "our new digital economy" a "computer and internet access serve as a gateway – if not a necessity – for the American Dream. Millions of Americans now rely on the internet to run their businesses, to educate themselves, to seek new opportunities, to research and write, and to communicate with family and friends."[28] According to Goodlatte, the bill was necessary to protect the American people and their ability to access the internet from the high monetary barriers that would be created if states were allowed to tax internet access.[28]

On March 27, 2014, Goodlatte introduced the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4323; 113th Congress) into the House. The bill would amend the Debbie Smith Act of 2004 in order to reauthorize funding through Fiscal Year 2019 for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, sexual assault forensic exam program grants, and DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers.[29] The bill would authorize the appropriation of $968 million over the 2015–2019 period.[30] The grant program would go to the states to run programs to analyze DNA samples from crime victims.[31] Goodlatte said that he was "pleased that the House voted today to stand by these brave victims and ensure that DNA analysis is completed quickly so that law enforcement officials can accurately identify, prosecute, and lock these criminals in jail so that sexual predators are not left free to roam our streets and potentially hurt more women."[32] He also urged the Senate to move quickly to pass the legislation.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Internet Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Civil Justice Caucus (Co-Chair)[33]
  • Congressional Pro Life Caucus[34]
  • Congressional Prayer Caucus[34]
  • Congressional Caucus on Adoption
  • Congressional Fire Services Caucus
  • Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Submarine Caucus
  • Navy and Marine Corps Caucus
  • National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus
  • Iraq Fallen Heroes Caucus
  • Shipbuilding Caucus
  • Air Force Caucus[35]
  • Congressional Cement Caucus

Electoral history

Virginia's 6th congressional district: Results 1992–2010[36]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Republican Primary Votes Pct Independent Votes Pct Minor Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Stephen A. Musselwhite 84,618 40% Bob Goodlatte 127,309 60% ** (no candidate) *
1994 (no candidate) Bob Goodlatte 126,455 100% (no candidate) *
1996 Jeffrey W. Grey 61,485 31% Bob Goodlatte 133,576 67% (no candidate) Jay P. Rutledge 4,229 2% *
1998 David A. Bowers 39,487 31% Bob Goodlatte 89,177 69% (no candidate) *
2000 (no candidate) Bob Goodlatte 153,338 99% (no candidate) Write-ins 1,145 1%
2002 (no candidate) Bob Goodlatte 105,530 97% (no candidate) Write-ins 3,202 3%
2004 (no candidate) Bob Goodlatte 206,560 97% (no candidate) Write-ins 7,088 3%
2006 (no candidate) Bob Goodlatte 153,187 75% (no candidate) Barbara Jean Pryor 25,129 12% Andre Peery Independent 24,731 12% *
2008 Sam Rasoul 114,367 37% Bob Goodlatte 192,350 62% (no candidate) Janice Lee Allen 5,413 2% *
2010 (no candidate) Bob Goodlatte 126,710 76% (no candidate) Jeffrey Vanke 21,648 13.% Stuart Bain Libertarian 15,309 9% *
2012 Andy Schmookler 109,929 34% Bob Goodlatte 209,701 66% Karen Kwiatkowski

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, write-ins received 160 votes. In 1994, write-ins received 189 votes. In 1996, write-ins received 71 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 66 votes. In 2006, write-ins received 948 votes. In 2008, write-ins received 262 votes. In 2010, write-ins relieved 2,709 votes. **In 1992, Bob Goodlatte received the Republican nomination at the Republican District Convention. Prior to 2012, Goodlatte had never faced a primary challenge throughout his 20-years in Congress.[37]

Personal life

Bob and his wife Maryellen have been married since 1974. They have two children: Jennifer and Rob.[38]


  1. "House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte says no impeachment of Obama". Retrieved 2016-04-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2016. "Freedom Caucus Calls For Impeachment of IRS Commissioner". The Daily Signal. Retrieved 2016-04-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "goodlatte". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Bob Goodlatte – Virginia 6th District :: About Bob". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. [1] Archived October 30, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  9. [2] Archived June 22, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  10. [3] Archived July 31, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  11. 11.0 11.1 [4] Archived August 2, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Mattie Duppler (2011-11-09). "Conservatives to Congress: Vote NO on a Weak Balanced Budget Amendment". Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved 2012-06-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Sponsor says 'clean' balanced budget amendment has edge for floor vote". TheHill. 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Washington Examiner".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Budget Control Act of 2011". August 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "H.R. 2015". July 24, 1997.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "SOPA Markup Hearings". 2011-12-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "SOPA Markup Hearings". 2011-12-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "SOPA Markup Hearings". 2011-12-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Oyama, Katherine (2011-11-16). Opening Statement to the HOR Judiciary Committee Hearing on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (Speech). American Rhetoric. Retrieved 2012-06-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Thomas (Library of Congress): HR 4777
  22. Nelson Rose: The Unlawful Internet gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 Analyzed
  23. Inside the Goodlatte Conspiracy
  24. H.R. 2265
  25. Bill Summary & Status 105th Congress (1997–1998) H.R.2265
  26. "H.R. 3309 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 6 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "H.R. 3086 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.0 28.1 Goodlatte, Bob (15 July 2014). "Make Internet access tax ban permanent". The Hill. Retrieved 16 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "H.R. 4323 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "H.R. 4323 – CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 8 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Marcos, Cristina (7 April 2014). "House approves sale of missile frigates to Taiwan". The Hill. Retrieved 8 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "House Approves Bipartisan Bill to Protect Victims of Sexual Assault". Office of Congressman Bob Goodlatte. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Bob Goodlatte – Virginia 6th District :: Civil Justice Caucus". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. 34.0 34.1 "Bob Goodlatte – Virginia 6th District :: Family Values". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Bob Goodlatte – Virginia 6th District :: Military/National Defense". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Confirmed through multiple sources, including FEC data, the Republican Party of Virginia and the Virginia State Board of Elections
  38. "About Goodlatte – Family".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Olin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

Preceded by
Larry Combest
Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
Succeeded by
Collin Peterson
Preceded by
Lamar Smith
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Anna Eshoo
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Gene Green