United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary

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Sonia Sotomayor testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on her nomination for the United States Supreme Court

The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, informally the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States Senate, of the United States Congress. The Judiciary Committee, with 20 members, is in charge of conducting hearings prior to the Senate votes on confirmation of federal judges (including Supreme Court justices) nominated by the President, as well as presidential appointments in the Department of Justice. In recent years, this role has made the committee increasingly a point of contention, with numerous party-line votes and standoffs over which judges should be approved. The committee also has a broad jurisdiction over matters relating to federal criminal law,[1] as well as human rights, immigration law, intellectual property rights, antitrust law, and Internet privacy. It is also Senate procedure that all proposed Constitutional Amendments pass through the Judiciary Committee.


Established in 1816 as one of the original standing committees in the United States Senate, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary is one of the oldest and most influential committees in Congress. Its broad legislative jurisdiction has assured its primary role as a forum for the public discussion of social and constitutional issues. The Committee is also responsible for oversight of key activities of the executive branch, and is responsible for the initial stages of the confirmation process of all judicial nominations for the federal judiciary.[2]

Members, 115th Congress

Majority - Republican Minority - Democratic

Historical membership

Members, 114th Congress

Majority - Republican Minority - Democratic

Source: 2013 Congressional Record, Vol. 159, Page S296 to 297

Current subcommittees

Subcommittee Chair Ranking member
Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Mike Lee (R-UT) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
The Constitution Ted Cruz (R-TX) Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Crime and Terrorism Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Border Security and Immigration John Cornyn (R-TX) Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts Ben Sasse (R-NE) Chris Coons (D-DE)
Privacy, Technology, and the Law Jeff Flake (R-AZ) Al Franken (D-MN)

Chair since 1816

Chair Party State Years
Dudley Chase Democratic-Republican Vermont 1816–1817
John J. Crittenden Democratic-Republican Kentucky 1817–1818
James Burrill, Jr. Federalist Rhode Island 1818–1820
William Smith Democratic-Republican South Carolina 1819–1823
Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican New York 1823–1828
John M. Berrien Jacksonian Georgia 1828–1829
John Rowan Democratic-Republican Kentucky 1829–1831
William L. Marcy Jacksonian New York 1831–1832
William Wilkins Jacksonian Pennsylvania 1832–1833
John M. Clayton Anti-Jacksonian Delaware 1833–1836
Felix Grundy Jacksonian Tennessee 1836–1838
Garret D. Wall Democratic New Jersey 1838–1841
John M. Berrien Whig Georgia 1841–1845
Chester Ashley Democratic Arkansas 1845–1847
Andrew P. Butler Democratic South Carolina 1847–1857
James A. Bayard, Jr. Democratic Delaware 1857–1861
Lyman Trumbull Republican Illinois 1861–1872
George G. Wright Republican Iowa 1872
George F. Edmunds Republican Vermont 1872–1879
Allen G. Thurman Democratic Ohio 1879–1881
George F. Edmunds Republican Vermont 1881–1891
George Frisbie Hoar Republican Massachusetts 1891–1893
James L. Pugh Democratic Alabama 1893–1895
George Frisbie Hoar Republican Massachusetts 1895–1904
Orville H. Platt Republican Connecticut 1904–1905
Clarence D. Clark Republican Wyoming 1905–1912
Charles Allen Culberson Democratic Texas 1912–1919
Knute Nelson Republican Minnesota 1919–1923
Frank B. Brandegee Republican Connecticut 1923–1924
Albert B. Cummins Republican Iowa 1924–1926
George William Norris Republican Nebraska 1926–1933
Henry F. Ashurst Democratic Arizona 1933–1941
Frederick Van Nuys Democratic Indiana 1941–1945
Pat McCarran Democratic Nevada 1945–1947
Alexander Wiley Republican Wisconsin 1947–1949
Pat McCarran Democratic Nevada 1949–1953
William Langer Republican North Dakota 1953–1955
Harley M. Kilgore Democratic West Virginia 1955–1956
James Eastland Democratic Mississippi 1956–1978
Edward M. Kennedy Democratic Massachusetts 1978–1981
Strom Thurmond Republican South Carolina 1981–1987
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Democratic Delaware 1987–1995
Orrin Hatch Republican Utah 1995–2001
Patrick Leahy[3] Democratic Vermont 2001
Orrin Hatch Republican Utah 2001
Patrick Leahy[4] Democratic Vermont 2001–2003
Orrin Hatch Republican Utah 2003–2005
Arlen Specter Republican Pennsylvania 2005–2007
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermont 2007–2015
Chuck Grassley Republican Iowa 2015–present

See also


  1. "Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 13 Judiciary 1947-1968". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved April 7, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "History | United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary". www.judiciary.senate.gov. Retrieved April 7, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. When the Senate convened in January 2001 17 days before President George W. Bush was inaugurated, there was a 50–50 split between Democrats and Republicans with Vice President Al Gore as a tiebreaking vote.
  4. In June 2001, Republican Jim Jeffords declared himself an Independent and caucused with the Democrats, giving the Democrats majority control.

External links