It’s official: The Democrats now control the Senate, too. Everyone has called the Virginia Senate race for Jim Webb, and George Allen just conceded.
So this means that the super-powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which plays a crucial gatekeeping role in the judicial confirmation process, will be chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Here’s the key paragraph from his bio:
At 34, he was the youngest U.S. Senator ever to be elected from the Green Mountain State. Leahy was born in Montpelier and grew up across from the Statehouse. A graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester (1961), he received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center (1964).
He served for eight years as State’s Attorney in Chittenden County. He gained a national reputation for his law enforcement activities and was selected (1974) as one of three outstanding prosecutors in the United States.
So just like the outgoing chair, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Senator Leahy is a lawyer and former prosecutor.
Pat Leahy isn’t as reviled by conservatives as incoming House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI). Senator Leahy is one of the more moderate Democrats on the committee, and he crossed party lines to vote in favor of Chief Justice Roberts’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Leahy also has a good working relationship with the outgoing chair, Senator Specter (but didn’t get along at all with Sen. Orrin Hatch, Specter’s predecessor).
Random fun facts about Senator Leahy: he’s a huge Grateful Dead fan, as well as a bit of a shutterbug.
Having a Senate controlled by the Democrats will obviously cramp President Bush’s style in the event that another Supreme Court seat opens up during his term. More on possible SCOTUS nominees here.
Patrick Leahy bio [Senate.gov]
Odd Couple’s Friendship Powers Senate Panel [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Patrick Leahy Takes Picture, Fails to Accomplish Anything Else Before Summer Recess [Wonkette]
Pat Leahy Strangely Fascinated by the Lights on His Senate Desk [Wonkette]