Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) has announced that he will not seek his former position as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee when Democrats gain control of the Senate and its committees next week. Instead, Biden will assume the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee replacing conservative Republican Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC).
Biden’s decision leaves the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Judiciary Committee will likely be the center of national attention as it votes on Supreme Court Justice nominations, among other judicial nominations, before they reach the Senate floor. Leahy has already sent a strong message to the White House that the climate of the Judiciary will change stating that the White House will “have to look for mainstream judges.”
The Judiciary Committee will be given even more attention when it considers the controversial nomination of Michael McConnell to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. McConnell, a staunch conservative, opposes abortion rights and has promoted a larger role for religion in American public life.