Patrick Leahy

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Patrick Leahy currently serves as the Senior Senator for Vermont

Patrick Joseph Leahy is the Senior Senator for the state of Vermont. He is a Democrat and was first elected in 1974. (map) Currently he serves as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Record and controversies

Iraq War

Leahy voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

OPEN Government Act

On March 13, 2007, Leahy and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National (OPEN) Government Act of 2007 (S.849). The Act is intended "to promote accessibility, accountability, openness in government by strengthening section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act)." The bill is also referred to as the Freedom of Information Reform Act of 2007. The bill contains more than a dozen substantive provisions designed to achieve the following four objectives:

  1. Strengthen FOIA and close loopholes
  2. Help FOIA requestors obtain timely responses to their requests
  3. Ensure that agencies have strong incentives to act on FOIA requests in a timely fashion
  4. Provide FOIA officials with all of the tools they need to ensure that our government remains open and accessible

The bill was blocked under an "anonymous hold" by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Main article: OPEN Government Act of 2007

Privacy and open government

In 2004, Senator Leahy was awarded the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champion of Freedom Award for efforts in information privacy and open government. Leahy is regarded as one of the leading privacy advocates in Congress. Some examples of his work in this area include:

Main article: U.S. congressional efforts to amend the Freedom of Information Act

Among other things, the bill would allow fee waivers for independent journalists, help ensure timely responses to FOIA requests, and close loopholes in the existing act to ensure compliance [2].

  • He was a primary author of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act, and is a leading proponent of enforcing "sunset" provisions for the sections of the Act that infringe the most on Americans' civil liberties. However, in 2005, he voted against renewing the act, noting that "As one of the authors of the original 2001 bill, as someone who voted to reauthorize an improved version of the Act back in July 2005, and as an American concerned with our security, I am glad that we are making progress, but disappointed at the missed opportunity to get it right." He noted that he opposed the reauthorization for its lack of adequate restrictions on searches, business records, and national security letters. [3][4] In March 2007, when it was revealed that the FBI had been using such letters improperly, as the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy announced that he would conduct hearings to investigate the matter. [5]
  • He was critical of the George W. Bush administration's unprecedented use of the National Security Agency to spy on US citizens without obtaining a warrant. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows for up to 3 days to obtain a warrant, after the fact.
  • In 1994, he held the Senate's first hearings on privacy related to medical records [6].
Main article: Presidential signing statements

Minimum wage

In 2006, Leahy, along with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) authored the Standing with Minimum Wage Earners Act of 2006. This bill would have changed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1983 by keeping the wage increase for congressional members at the same pace as the increase of the federal minimum wage. [8][9]

Main article: Minimum wage legislation

Judiciary Committee

In the 110th Congress, Leahy, as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was deeply involved in a controversy which erupted following the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys in late 2006. [10] [11]

Main article: Bush administration U.S. attorney firings controversy

Prisoner treatment and extraordinary rendition

Speaking about treatment of prisoners, Leahy stated that even if the United States' actions towards Afghani prisoners did not constitute torture, it was still "beneath a great nation." [12] After news of Maher Arar, a Canadian who had been held and allegedly tortured without ever being charged of a crime, broke in January 2007, Leahy forcefully questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the issue, noting that "We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he would be tortured." [13].

In September 2006, Leahy also blasted the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which would give the president power to detain enemy combatants indefinitely and reduce their right to habeas corpus. On the Senate floor, he stated that "It grieves me to think that three decades in this body that I stand here in the Senate, knowing that we’re thinking of doing this. It is so wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American." [14].

Restoring Habeas Corpus for detainees

The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 (S.185): "A bill to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States," was introduced on January 4, 2007 in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and committee Chairman Leahy, with 18 cosponsors. On May 22, 2007, hearings were held on the bill by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on Jun 7, 2007, the committee reported the bill favorably without amendment.

On December 5, 2006, Sen. Specter introduced the same bill in the 109th Congress as S.4081. The bill was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Main article: Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007

Same-sex marriage

Leahy did vote against a proposed 2006 constitutional amendment which would ban same-sex marriages, noting that it would improperly play politics with the Constitution and was a waste of the Congress' time, which was similar to his opinion on the Terry Schiavo controversy. [15] In a statement, he said that he would rather the states take the matter up, saying "We should take the prudential course and respect State governments to be responsive to their citizenry." [16]

Bucking the party

Leahy has, however, broken with his party on several notable occasions. He surprised many when on September 21, 2005 he announced his support for John Roberts to be Chief Justice. He did however, vote against the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Leahy has a mixed record on gun control, being one of the few Senate Democrats to vote against the Brady Bill. He voted for NAFTA, but against CAFTA, and in favor of phasing out farm subsidies supported by the populist wing of the Democratic Party. Leahy voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and was one of the few liberal Democrats to support the ban on partial-birth abortions. [17]

Interest group support

Leahy's voting record, and hence his support, tends to lean liberal. However, due to some of his votes over his long years in Congress, very few organizations give him "scores" on the extreme ends of the spectrum. [18]. The American Civil Liberties Union has given him scores in the high sixties; the League of Conservation Voters gives him very high scores. Indeed, he has gotten ratings around twenty percent from several conservative interest groups.

Gonzales perjury probe

After a July 24, 2007 House Judiciary Committee hearing where Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified about the NSA warrantless surveillance program, many Democrats felt that he had purposely tried to mislead them.[1]

In the hearing, Gonzales stated that a March 10, 2004 White House meeting with Congressional leaders was not about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, but about something else. However, a document from then-intelligence chief John Negroponte to then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert stated that the March 10th meeting was indeed on the Terrorist Surveillance Program, contradicting Gonzales' testimony.[2]

Leahy stated that he would give Gonzales a week to revise his testimony or he would ask Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine to conduct a perjury inquiry. Leahy stated, "I'll ask the inspector general to determine who's telling the truth."[3]

Reparations for Japanese Latin Americans

Leahy cosponsored The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act in the 110th Congress which would establish a commission that would determine the facts and circumstances involving the relocation, internment and deportation of Japanese Latin Americans.[4]

Main article: Redress for Japanese Latin Americans/ U.S. legislation#Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act of 2007


Iran-Contra leak

In 1987, Leahy resigned from his position as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an investigation into an alleged leak to a reporter regarding a non-classified draft report on the Committee's investigation into the Iran/Contra Scandal. [19]

Cheney drops F-bomb on Leahy

On June 22, 2004 Leahy and Vice President Dick Cheney participated in the US Senate class photo. During this time, Cheney upbraided Leahy for Leahy's recent excoriations of Cheney over Halliburton's alleged war profiteering. The discussion ended with Cheney telling Leahy to "... go fuck yourself". [20]

Cheney refused to apologize, later telling Fox News (quoted in the Washington Post), "I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it...I think that a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue." Senate leaders implored members to stop partisan squabbling and to "end the cycle of partisan retaliation." [21]



Leahy was born March 31, 1940 in Montpelier, Vermont. He graduated from Saint Michael's College in 1961 and received his J.D. degree from Georgetown University in 1964. He practiced as a lawyer until he was elected to the United States Senate for the first time in 1974, making him at age 34 the youngest senator ever elected from his state[22]. He served four terms as State's Attorney of Chittenden County prior to election to the Senate (1966 to 1974).

Senate career

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00009918&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Patrick Leahy
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and affiliations


  • Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
    • Subcommittee on Nutrition and Food Assistance, Sustainable and Organic Agriculture, and General Legislation - Chairman
    • Subcommittee on Production, Income Protection and Price Support
    • Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit
  • Senate Committee on the Judiciary
    • Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights
  • Senate Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science
    • Subcommittee on Defense
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment
    • Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
    • Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

More background data

Wikipedia also has an article on Patrick Leahy. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
433 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-4242
Fax: 202-224-3479
Email: senator_leahy AT
Web Email

District Office - Burlington:
199 Main Street, Fourth Floor
Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 802-863-2525
TollFree: 1-800-642-3193 (VT Only)

District Office - Montpelier:
Post Office Box 933
87 State Street, Room 338
Montpelier, VT 05602
Phone: 802-229-0569
TollFree: 1-800-229-0569 (VT Only)

Articles and resources


  1. Spencer Ackerman. "Gonzales Running out of Perjury Options," TPM Muckraker. July 26, 2007.
  2. Spencer Ackerman. "Gonzales Running out of Perjury Options," TPM Muckraker. July 26, 2007.
  3. Spencer Ackerman. "Gonzales Running out of Perjury Options," TPM Muckraker. July 26, 2007.
  5. Directors, National Museum of Natural History, accessed October 5, 2008.


Local blogs and discussion sites


By Patrick Leahy

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committees: Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry, Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry/Subcommittee on Nutrition and Food Assistance Sustainable and Organic Agriculture and General Legislation, Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry/Subcommittee on Production Income Protection and Price Support, Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry/Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization Conservation Forestry and Credit, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Commerce Justice and Science and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Defense, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on State Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Interior Environment and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Transportation Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Antitrust Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 5, 1974
First Took Current Office:
January 14, 1975
Next Election:
November 2, 2010
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
Chittenden County (VT) state's attorney
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. 199 Main Street, Fourth Floor, Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 802-863-2525 / Fax:
2. Post Office Box 933, 87 State Street, Room 338, Montpelier, VT 05602
Phone: 802-229-0569 / Fax:

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: March 31, 1940