The House Judiciary Committee
What Is The House Judiciary Committee?
The House Judiciary Committee, also referred to as the United States Committee on the Judiciary, oversees the execution of our legal system by US administrative agencies, the federal courts, and Federal law enforcement agencies. Additional responsibilities include impeachments of federal officials and oversight of judicial legislation.
To facilitate the nature of the committee’s legal bailiwick, members often have a legal background. Nonetheless, legal experience is not required for committee members.
Subcommittees Of The House Judiciary Committee
The House Judiciary Committee also has five subcommittees. The Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee have jurisdiction over the US Court system while the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee has jurisdiction over all matters concerning the United States Constitution.
Additional subcommittees include:
- Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
- Immigration and Citizenship
- Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law
What Is The Judiciary Committee Responsible For?
Although the committee was originally established to consider legislation related to the administration of justice, its jurisdiction has expanded over the decades. The committee oversees civil and criminal proceedings, apportionment (number of House members according to the proportion of state population) and civil liberties.
Additional issues on the committee’s agenda include:
- Administrative practice and procedure.
- Bankruptcy, mutiny, espionage, and counterfeiting.
- Constitutional amendments.
- Criminal law enforcement.
- Federal courts and judges, and local courts in the Territories and possessions.
- Immigration policy and non-border enforcement.
- Interstate compacts generally.
- Claims against the United States.
- Members of Congress, attendance of members, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner; and their acceptance of incompatible offices.
- National penitentiaries.
- Patents, the Patent and Trademark Office, copyrights, and trademarks.
- Presidential succession.
- Protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies.
- Revision and codification of the Statutes of the United States.
- State and territorial boundary lines.
- Subversive activities affecting the internal security of the United States.
Recent Activities Of The House Judiciary Committee
Recent activities of the current committee include Muller Report hearings and the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.
The Mueller Report
On July 24, 2019, the committee heard the testimony of Special Counsel Robert Muller. In his comprehensive report, Mueller found that President Donald Trump did not criminally conspire with Russia to win the 2016 Presidential election. The report also detailed several instances where the President obstructed justice during the subsequent investigation of his actions. Mueller stated in his report, and to the committee, that although his team was not able to conclude that the President committed a crime, they did not exonerate him.
On October 31, 2019, the US House of Representatives voted on party lines to approve an Impeachment Resolution. The resolution codified the rules for public hearings to be conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. The Intelligence Committee will draft a report of its findings and transfer the document to the House Judiciary Committee.
The House Judiciary Committee will then move forward with subsequent impeachment proceedings, including the President’s efforts to defend himself via due process. The Judiciary will then “report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.”
Who Is The Current Chairman?
Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler is the current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler took control of the gavel in January 2019, just after Democrats secured majority representation in the 2018 midterm election. Nadler represents New York’s 10th District with constituents from Wall Street to Greenwich Village to Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Republican Congressman Doug Collins is the current ranking member of the committee. Collins represents Georgia’s 9th Congressional District.
Who Are The Members Of The House Judiciary Committee?
The committee currently has 41 members – 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans.
Jerry Nadler, NY-10
Jamie Raskin, MD-8
Ted Lieu, CA-33
Zoe Lofgren, CA-19
Lucy McBath, GA-6
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, FL-26
Joe Neguse, CO-2
Cedric Richmond, LA-2
Mary Gay Scanlon, PA-5
Greg Stanton, AZ-9
Hank Johnson, GA-4
Madeleine Dean, PA-4
David N. Cicilline, RI-1
Steve Cohen, TN-9
Lou Correa, CA-46
Val Demings, FL-10
Karen Bass, CA-37
Theodore E. Deutch, FL-22
Veronica Escobar, TX-16
Sylvia Garcia, TX-29
Sheila Jackson Lee, TX-18
Pramila Jayapal, WA-7
Hakeem Jeffries, NY-8
Eric Swalwell, CA-15
Doug Collins, GA-9
Kelly Armstrong, ND At-Large District
Tom McClintock, CA-4
John Ratcliffe, TX-4
Jim Jordan, OH-4
Guy Reschenthaler, PA-14
Martha Roby, AL-2
F. James “Jim” Sensenbrenner, WI-5
Greg Steube, FL-17
Debbie Lesko, AZ-8
Mike Johnson, LA-4
Andy Biggs, AZ-5
Ken Buck, CO-4
Steve Chabot, OH-1
Benjamin Lee “Ben” Cline, VA-6
Matt Gaetz, FL-1
Louis B. “Louie” Gohmert Jr., TX-1
History Of The House Judiciary Committee
On June 1, 1813, Congressman John George Jackson introduced a resolution to create the committee. The measure passed on June 3rd and the House Judiciary became the 13th standing committee introduced to the US House of Representatives.
The first House Judiciary committee had seven members and was chaired by Pennsylvania Congressman Charles J. Ingersoll. For the first time, Congress had a “central authority on the courts”. Previously, legislative matters of law were handled on an ad hoc basis by select committees or by a Committee of the Whole.
By 1880, the committee’s jurisdiction expanded to include matters of civil law, criminal law, and subsequent penalties. Just over half a decade later the Reorganization Act of 1946 added patents, immigration, and naturalization to the committee’s responsibilities. In 1964 the Committee was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Past committee chairmen include:
- Jerry Nadler, 2019 – Present, Democrat from New York
- Bob Goodlatte, 2013 – 2019, Republican from Virginia
- Lamar Smith, 2011-2013, Republican from Texas
- John Conyers, 2007 – 2011, Democrat from Michigan
- Jim Sensenbrenner, 2001 – 2007, Republican Wisconsin
- Henry Hyde, 1995 – 2001, Republican Illinois
- Jack Brooks, 1989 – 1995, Democrat from Texas
- Peter W. Rodino Jr., 1973 – 1989, Democrat from New Jersey
- Emanuel Celler, 1955 – 1973, Democrat from New York
The Rantt Rundown
The House Judiciary Committee was created in the early 1800s to oversee federal matters of law. Two centuries later, the committee is the central legislative legal body in the US House of Representatives and performs oversight of the legal activities of all US departments and agencies. In 2019, the committee will determine if the United States Congress will draft articles impeachment of the 45th president of the United States.