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A graduate of Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Sarbanes received an academic and athletic scholarship to Princeton University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1954. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship that brought him to Balliol College in Oxford, England, graduating first in his class in 1957. Sarbanes then returned to the United States and attended Harvard Law School.
After graduating in 1960, he clerked for Federal Judge Morris A. Soper before going into private practice with two Baltimore, Maryland law firms. In June 1960, Sarbanes married Christine Dunbar of Brighton, England; they have three children and six grandchildren. Sarbanes is a member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore.
In 1966, Sarbanes ran for the Maryland House of Delegates in Baltimore City and won. During his four years as a State Legislator in Annapolis, Maryland he served on the Judiciary and the Ways and Means Committees.
He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1970 and was reelected in 1972 and 1974. While in the House, Sarbanes served on the Judiciary Committee, the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee , and the Select Committee on House Reorganization . It was during his service in the House, in August 1974, that Sarbanes was selected by his Democratic colleagues on the House Watergate Committee to introduce the first Article of Impeachment, for obstruction of justice, against President Richard Nixon.
In 1976, Sarbanes was elected to the Senate and reelected in 1982, 1988, 1994 and 2000. In 2002, Sarbanes was the Senate sponsor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which reformed federal securities laws in the wake of the 2002 corporate accounting scandals.
Senator Sarbanes serves on the following Senate committees:
- Ranking Member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
- Senior Member Foreign Relations Committee.
- Senior Member Budget Committee.
- Senior Member Joint Economic Committee.
On March 11, 2005, Sarbanes, who has been the longest serving senator in Maryland history, called a news conference announcing he will not be seeking re-election in 2006. On March 14, 2005 former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume announced his candidacy for the Senate seat. Later, 8th district congressman Chris Van Hollen and 3rd district congressman Dutch Ruppersberger announced they will be forming exploratory committees to decide whether or not to run for the seat.
Some other possible contenders from the Democratic Party looking to succeed Sarbanes include: 7th district congressman Elijah Cummings and 3rd district congressman Ben Cardin. Two potential candidates—4th district congressman Albert Wynn and 5th district congressman Steny Hoyer—have dispelled any rumors of running for the vacant seat.
Some candidates from the Republican Party are also looking to give Maryland its first Republican senator in over 20 Years, namely Lt. Governor Michael Steele, and Maryland State Senator Edward (E.J.) Pipkin.
|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Edward A. Garmatz | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |U.S. Representative for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District
1973-1977 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
|- style="text-align: center;"
| width="30%" |Preceded by:
John Glenn Beall, Jr. | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Maryland
1977—present | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
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