Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Montpelier, Vermont, Leahy graduated from St. Michael's College in 1961 and received his J.D. degree from Georgetown University in 1964. He practiced as a lawyer until he was elected to the United States Senate for the first time in 1974. He had not held any other political office before becoming senator.
He was reelected in 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004. He was chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee from 1987 until the Democrats lost control of the Senate in 1995, and was then Chairman of the Judiciary Committee from 2001 until the Democrats lost control again in 2003. He is now the ranking member of that committee and is one of the leaders in the Democratic Party's effort to block several nominees put forward by President George W. Bush for federal judgeships.
In 1987, Leahy resigned from his position as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an investigation into an alleged leak to an reporter regarding classified information. Other allegations have been made about other leaks, but the investigation was never made public.
The 1998 election was noteworthy in that Leahy had the rare endorsement of his Republican opponent, Fred Tuttle. Fred was the lead actor in the Vermont movie Man With A Plan, in which a farmer decides to run for the senate. Fred was persuaded to run in real life; after a surprise defeat of the other Republican canidate Jack McMullen, Fred told voters to vote for Leahy because he didn't want to move to Washington D.C. Leahy was touched by this gesture; he once said that Fred was the "distilled essence of Vermonthood".
On June 22, 2004 Leahy and Vice President Dick Cheney participated in the US Senate class photo. During this time, Cheney upbraided Leahy for Leahy's recent excoriations of Cheney over Halliburton's alleged war profiteering. The discussion ended with Cheney telling Leahy to "... go fuck yourself." Some have pointed to this incident as yet further evidence of the culture of extreme partisanship preeminent in Washington.
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