Senate Judiciary Committee

Author:Louis Fisher

Page 2364

The Senate Judiciary Committee, created as a standing committee in 1816, is responsible for a vast array of constitutional and legislative issues. The subcommittee structure reveals the broad substantive areas covered by the committee.

The Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Affairs responds to illegal immigration, the admission and resettlement of refugees, NATURALIZATION, private relief bills, and international migration. The Simpson-Mazzoli Act in 1986 represented the first comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws since the McCarren-Walter Act of 1952. The Subcommittee on Antitrust, Monopolies, and Business Rights is responsible for such statutes as the SHERMAN ANTITRUST ACT of 1890 and the CLAYTON ACT, of 1914. The Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks monitors traditional statutes in its area and such emerging issues as home video recording and intellectual property rights. The Subcommittee on Technology and the Law oversees all laws relating to information policy, electronic privacy, and security of computer information. These issues frequently involve complex interpretations of SEARCH AND SEIZURE law.

The Subcommittee on Courts and Administrative Practice reports legislation dealing with new courts and judgeships, bankruptcy, court administration and management, judicial rules and procedures, administrative practices and procedures, tort reform and liability issues, and private relief bills other than immigration. One of the controversial bills to emerge from this subcommittee was the Judicial Councils Reform and Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, which created a procedure for disciplining federal judges in addition to the impeachment process. The constitutionality of this statute has been upheld by a number of appellate courts.

The Subcommittee on the Constitution has jurisdiction over all constitutional amendments. Amendments examined in recent years have dealt with ABORTION, a BALANCED BUDGET, EQUAL RIGHTS for women, SCHOOL BUSING, and SCHOOL PRAYER. The subcommittee is also responsible for legislation needed for CIVIL RIGHTS enforcement, including the VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, and fair housing. Other duties involve CIVIL LIBERTIES, INTERSTATE COMPACTS, and criminal legislation related to constitutional issues, such as HABEAS CORPUS, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, and the EXCLUSIONARY RULE.

The Senate Judiciary Committee reviews nominations for the Supreme...

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