Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, 65, is the top Democrat on the Senate
Judiciary Committee. As such, Leahy and Committee Chairman Arlen
Specter, R-Pa., are charged with overseeing the confirmation hearings
of President George W. Bush's nominee John Roberts.
most accounts, Leahy who has known Specter since the two were
attorneys in the 1960s, is gearing up for a fair, but tough fight.
Born in Montpelier, Vt. in 1940, Leahy attended Saint Michael's
College in Colchester and graduated from Georgetown University
Law Center in 1964. He served as a state attorney in Vermont's
Chittenden County for eight years. It was at that time he met
his friend and political rival Specter.
Leahy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974 at the age of 34.
He is widely known as an outspoken Democrat, who in the weeks
after the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor urged President
Bush to be a "uniter, not a divider."
Leahy also is a member of the Appropriations Committee and serves on several
subcommittees. In 1987, he was forced to resign from the Senate
Intelligence Committee after allegations he leaked sensitive information
to an NBC reporter.
Leahy has been passionately involved in banning the production
and export of land mines and, through his program, the Leahy War
Victims Fund, provides up to $14 million per year in relief to
landmine victims, his Web site reports. And, in recent years,
he has been actively working to revise some provisions of the
USA Patriot Act he claims infringe on constitutional rights.
Of the nine sitting justices on the Supreme Court, Leahy has
voted to confirm seven. He voted against conservative Justice
Clarence Thomas' nomination in 1991 and opposed William Rehnquist's
appointment as chief justice in 1986.