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The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (informally Senate Judiciary Committee) is a standing committee of the United States Senate, the upper house of the United States Congress. The Judiciary Committee is charged with conducting hearings prior to the Senate votes on whether to confirm or not confirm prospective federal judges (including Supreme Courtmarker justices) nominated by the president. 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. Additionally, it is Senate procedure that all proposed Constitutional Amendments pass through the Judiciary Committee.

The committee is one of the oldest in the Senate. It was initially created in 1816.

Members, 111th Congress

The Committee is chaired by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermontmarker. Following Arlen Specter's move to the Democratic party, the Ranking Minority Member is Jeff Sessions of Alabamamarker for the duration of the 111th Congress, after which time Chuck Grassley of Iowamarker will assume that role.

Majority Minority

Source: , S7168


Subcommittee Chair Ranking member
Administrative Oversight and the Courts Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Herb Kohl (D-WI) Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
The Constitution Russ Feingold (D-WI) Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Crime and Drugs Arlen Specter (D-PA) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Human Rights and the Law Dick Durbin (D-IL) Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Chuck Schumer (D-NY) John Cornyn (R-TX)
Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security Ben Cardin (D-MD) Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

Chairmen since 1816

Chairman Party State Years
Dudley Chase Democratic-Republican Vermontmarker 1816–1817
John J. Crittenden Democratic-Republican Kentuckymarker 1817–1818
James Burrill, Jr. Federalist Rhode Islandmarker 1818–1819
William Smith Democratic-Republican South Carolinamarker 1819–1823
Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican New Yorkmarker 1823–1828
John M. Berrien Jacksonian Georgiamarker 1828–1829
John Rowan Democratic-Republican Kentuckymarker 1829–1831
William L. Marcy Jacksonian New Yorkmarker 1831–1832
William Wilkins Jacksonian Pennsylvaniamarker 1832-1833
John M. Clayton Anti-Jacksonian Delawaremarker 1833–1836
Felix Grundy Jacksonian Tennesseemarker 1836-1838
Garret D. Wall Democratic New Jerseymarker 1838–1841
John M. Berrien Whig Georgiamarker 1841–1845
Chester Ashley Democratic Arkansasmarker 1845–1847
Andrew P. Butler Democratic South Carolinamarker 1847–1857
James A. Bayard, Jr. Democratic Delawaremarker 1857–1861
Lyman Trumbull Republican Illinoismarker 1861-1872
George F. Edmunds Republican Vermontmarker 1872–1879
Allen G. Thurman Democratic Ohiomarker 1879–1881
George F. Edmunds Republican Vermontmarker 1881–1891
George Frisbie Hoar Republican Massachusettsmarker 1891–1893
James L. Pugh Democratic Alabamamarker 1893–1895
George Frisbie Hoar Republican Massachusettsmarker 1895–1904
Orville H. Platt Republican Connecticutmarker 1904-1905
Clarence D. Clark Republican Wyomingmarker 1905-1912
Charles Allen Culberson Democratic Texasmarker 1912-1919
Knute Nelson Republican Minnesotamarker 1919–1923
Frank B. Brandegee Republican Connecticutmarker 1923–1924
Albert B. Cummins Republican Iowamarker 1924–1926
George William Norris Republican Nebraskamarker 1926–1933
Henry F. Ashurst Democratic Arizonamarker 1933–1941
Frederick Van Nuys Democratic Indianamarker 1941–1945
Pat McCarran Democratic Nevadamarker 1945–1947
Alexander Wiley Republican Wisconsinmarker 1947–1949
Pat McCarran Democratic Nevadamarker 1949–1953
William Langer Republican North Dakotamarker 1953–1955
Harley M. Kilgore Democratic West Virginiamarker 1955–1956
James Eastland Democratic Mississippimarker 1956–1978
Edward M. Kennedy Democratic Massachusettsmarker 1978–1981
Strom Thurmond Republican South Carolinamarker 1981–1987
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Democratic Delawaremarker 1987–1995
Orrin Hatch Republican Utahmarker 1995–2001
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermontmarker 2001
Orrin Hatch Republican Utahmarker 2001
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermontmarker 2001–2003
Orrin Hatch Republican Utahmarker 2003-2005
Arlen Specter Republican Pennsylvaniamarker 2005-2007
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermontmarker 2007–present


  1. 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.
  2. In June 2001, Republican Jim Jeffords declared himself an Independent and caucused with the Democrats, giving the Democrats majority control.

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