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Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate

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The Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, commonly known as the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States Senate and is considered to be one of the most influential committees in Congress. Created in 1816, it considers matters related to the federal judiciary in the United States and oversees the Department of Justice. The committee has the responsibility to confirm or deny presidential nominations to the federal justice system. It also reviews legislation in a number of different areas.[1][2]


The committee is granted power by the United States Constitution to hold nomination hearings for all nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. District Courts and U.S. Court of International Trade. The committee is also given the same power for other executive positions in the Department of Justice, such as the Attorney General of the United States and United States Attorneys across the nation. The committee has additional power to consider certain nominations outside of the Department of Justice, including nominations to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce. Under the provisions of the Constitution, the Senate is given the right to advise and consent on all presidential nominations.[3][2]


There are 18 members of the Judiciary Committee. For a list of current members, see Ballotpedia's United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary page.


Like all Senate committees, the chairperson of the Judiciary Committee is a member of the party with majority control of the Senate.

Nomination hearings

When a person is nominated by the President, consideration for the given nominee must be referred to the appropriate committee. Most presidential nominees, including judicial nominations, are required to complete a committee questionnaire. In the questionnaire, nominees are asked to list previous professional experiences, educational information, potential conflicts of interest and personal finance information. Judicial nominees are also required to complete an additional evaluation from the American Bar Association, which is required before the committee can schedule a hearing. During the hearing, all nominees present information under oath. During the questioning, all senators on the committee may question the nominee on any appropriate subject. After the hearing, nominations are listed for committee consideration during executive business meetings, where the committee has the authority to advance the nominee to a full Senate vote. At any time after the hearing, committee members can send correspondence to any nominee for additional questioning.[4][5][6]

Judiciary Committee hearings are open to the public and occur in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Additionally, committee hearings are webcast online and can be watched here.


The Senate Judiciary Committee is subdivided into seven subcommittees, each involving a general area of law.

Bankruptcy and the Courts


1. Federal court jurisdiction, administration and management;
2. Rules of evidence and procedure;
3. Creation of new courts and judgeships;
4. Bankruptcy;
5. Legal reform and liability issues;
6. Local courts in territories and possessions.[7]

Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights


1. Oversight of antitrust law and competition policy, including the Sherman, Clayton and Federal Trade Commission Acts;
2. Oversight of antitrust enforcement and competition policy at the Justice Department;
3. Oversight of antitrust enforcement and competition policy at the Federal Trade Commission;
4. Oversight of competition policy at other federal agencies.[7]

The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights


1. Constitutional amendments;
2. Enforcement and protection of constitutional rights;
3. Statutory guarantees of civil rights and civil liberties;
4. Separation of powers;
5. Federal-State relations;
6. Interstate compacts;
7. Human rights laws and practices;
8. Enforcement and implementation of human rights laws.[7]

Crime and Terrorism


1. Oversight of the Department of Justice's (a) Criminal Division, (b) Drug Enforcement Administration, (c) Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, (d) Office on Violence Against Women, (e) U.S. Marshals Service, (f) Community Oriented Policing Services and related law enforcement grants, (g) Bureau of Prisons, (h) Office of the Pardon Attorney, (i) U.S. Parole Commission, (j) Federal Bureau of Investigation, and (k) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as it relates to crime or drug policy;
2. Oversight of the U.S. Sentencing Commission;
3. Youth violence and directly related issues;
4. Federal programs under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, as amended (including the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act);
5. Criminal justice and victims' rights policy;
6. Oversight of the Office of National Drug Control Policy;
7. Oversight of the U.S. Secret Service;
8. Corrections, rehabilitation, reentry and other detention-related policy; and (9) Parole and probation policy; (10) Oversight of anti-terrorism enforcement and policy; (11) Oversight of Department of Homeland Security functions as they relate to anti-terrorism enforcement and policy; (12) Oversight of State Department consular operations as they relate to anti-terrorism enforcement and policy; (13) Oversight of encryption policies and export licensing; and (14) Oversight of espionage laws and their enforcement.[7]

Immigration, Refugees and Border Security


1. Immigration, citizenship, and refugee laws;
2. Oversight of the immigration functions of the Department of Homeland Security, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Ombudsman Citizenship and Immigration Services;
3. Oversight of the immigration-related functions of the Department of Justice, the Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the Department of Labor;
4. Oversight of international migration, internally displaced persons, and refugee laws and policy; and
5. Private immigration relief bills.[7]

Privacy, Technology and the Law


1. Oversight of laws and policies governing the collection, protection, use and dissemination of commercial information by the private sector, including online behavioral advertising, privacy within social networking websites and other online privacy issues;
2. Enforcement and implementation of commercial information privacy laws and policies;
3. Use of technology by the private sector to protect privacy, enhance transparency and encourage innovation;
4. Privacy standards for the collection, retention, use and dissemination of personally identifiable commercial information; and
5. Privacy implications of new or emerging technologies.[7]

Oversight, Federal Rights and Agency Action


1. Administrative practices and procedures including agency rulemaking and adjudication;
2. Judicial review of agency action;
3. Third party enforcement of federal rights;
4. Oversight of the Department of Justice grant programs, as well as government waste and abuse;
5. private relief bills other than immigration; and
6. Oversight of the Foreign Claims Settlement Act.[7]


The U.S. Senate established the body's original standing committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a resolution adopted on December 10, 1816. The Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives had been established three years prior. The first chairman of the committee was Senator Dudley Chase of Vermont, who was appointed and served during the second session of the 14th Congress.[1][8]

The committee has been responsible for initial considerations of federal judicial nominations since 1868. Additionally, in the 19th century, the committee considered many petitions regarding the creation of additional judgeships, new district courts, changes in court locations and increases in judicial salaries. In the 20th century, it played a large role in creating legislation to establish independent administrative agencies for the judicial system.[9]

Supreme Court voting record

A record of the Judiciary Committee's votes regarding the confirmations of recent justices of the Supreme Court of the United States can be found here: Judiciary Committee Votes On Recent Supreme Court Nominees.

Rules of Procedure

Rules of Procedure for the Judiciary Committee, as listed on the committee's website:[6]


1. Meetings of the Committee may be called by the Chairman as he may deem necessary on three days' notice of the date, time, place and subject matter of the meeting, or in the alternative with the consent of the Ranking Minority Member, or pursuant to the provision of the Standing Rules of the Senate, as amended.

2. Unless a different date and time are set by the Chairman pursuant to (1) of this section, Committee meetings shall be held beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Thursdays the Senate is in session, which shall be the regular meeting day for the transaction of business.

3. At the request of any member, or by action of the Chairman, a bill, matter, or nomination on the agenda of the Committee may be held over until the next meeting of the Committee or for one week, whichever occurs later.


1. The Committee shall provide a public announcement of the date, time, place and subject matter of any hearing to be conducted by the Committee or any Subcommittee at least seven calendar days prior to the commencement of that hearing, unless the Chairman with the consent of the Ranking Minority Member determines that good cause exists to begin such hearing at an earlier date. Witnesses shall provide a written statement of their testimony and curriculum vitae to the Committee at least 24 hours preceding the hearings in as many copies as the Chairman of the Committee or Subcommittee prescribes.

2. In the event 14 calendar days' notice of a hearing has been made, witnesses appearing before the Committee, including any witness representing a Government agency, must file with the Committee at least 48 hours preceding appearance written statements of their testimony and curriculum vitae in as many copies as the Chairman of the Committee or Subcommittee prescribes.

3. In the event a witness fails timely to file the written statement in accordance with this rule, the Chairman may permit the witness to testify, or deny the witness the privilege of testifying before the Committee, or permit the witness to testify in response to questions from Senators without the benefit of giving an opening statement.


1. Six Members of the Committee, actually present, shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of discussing business. Eight Members of the Committee, including at least two Members of the minority, shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business. No bill, matter, or nomination shall be ordered reported from the Committee, however, unless a majority of the Committee is actually present at the time such action is taken and a majority of those present support the action taken.

2. For the purpose of taking down sworn testimony, a quorum of the Committee and each Subcommittee thereof, now or hereafter appointed, shall consist of one Senator.


The Chairman shall entertain a non-debatable motion to bring a matter before the Committee to a vote. If there is objection to bring the matter to a vote without further debate, a roll call vote of the Committee shall be taken, and debate shall be terminated if the motion to bring the matter to a vote without further debate passes with ten votes in the affirmative, one of which must be cast by the minority.


1. Provided at least seven calendars days' notice of the agenda is given, and the text of the proposed bill or resolution has been made available at least seven calendar days in advance, it shall not be in order for the Committee to consider any amendment in the first degree proposed to any measure under consideration by the Committee unless such amendment has been delivered to the office of the Committee and circulated via e-mail to each of the offices by at least 5:00 p.m. the day prior to the scheduled start of the meeting.

2. It shall be in order, without prior notice, for a Member to offer a motion to strike a single section of any bill, resolution, or amendment under consideration.

3. The time limit imposed on the filing of amendments shall apply to no more than three bills identified by the Chairman and included on the Committee's legislative agenda.

4. This section of the rule may be waived by agreement of the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member.


When a recorded vote is taken in the Committee on any bill, resolution, amendment, or any other question, a quorum being present, Members who are unable to attend the meeting may submit votes by proxy, in writing or by telephone, or through personal instructions. A proxy must be specific with respect to the matters it addresses.


1. Any Member of the Committee may sit with any Subcommittee during its hearings or any other meeting, but shall not have the authority to vote on any matter before the Subcommittee unless a Member of such Subcommittee.

2. Subcommittees shall be considered de novo whenever there is a change in the Subcommittee chairmanship and seniority on the particular Subcommittee shall not necessarily apply.

3. Except for matters retained at the full Committee, matters shall be referred to the appropriate Subcommittee or Subcommittees by the Chairman, except as agreed by a majority vote of the Committee or by the agreement of the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member.

4. Provided all members of the Subcommittee consent, a bill or other matter may be polled out of the Subcommittee. In order to be polled out of a Subcommittee, a majority of the members of the Subcommittee who vote must vote in favor of reporting the bill or matter to the Committee.


1. Official attendance at all Committee business meetings of the Committee shall be kept by the Committee Clerk. Official attendance at all Subcommittee business meetings shall be kept by the Subcommittee Clerk.

2. Official attendance at all hearings shall be kept, provided that Senators are notified by the Committee Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, in the case of Committee hearings, and by the Subcommittee Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, in the case of Subcommittee Hearings, 48 hours in advance of the hearing that attendance will be taken; otherwise, no attendance will be taken. Attendance at all hearings is encouraged.

See also

External links