Senator Patrick Leahy will restore constitutional values, civil liberties and renew accountability in Washington. In a speech given at Georgetown University on December 13, 2006, Leahy, the newly appointed Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, laid out plans for his tenure in broad brushstrokes. In particular, he promised a restorative agenda comprised of the "repair and renewal" of constitutional values. He said:
"In my 32 years...in the Senate, I have never seen a Congress so willfully derelict in its duties as during this Administration. This has been an unfortunate chapter in Congress's history, a time when our Constitution was under assault, when our legal and human rights were weakened, when our privacy and other freedoms were eroded. This election was an intervention. The American people rose up to take away Congress's rubber stamp, and to demand a new direction with more accountability."
Leahy also pointed out that he would rectify a government that has "systematically eroded Americans' privacy rights," deriding this administration's dereliction of lawful authority through wiretapping without warrants and creating databanks and dossiers on law-abiding citizens without legal authorization. As he said: "This White House has behaved as if the Constitution begins with Article II, and they have taken their extreme ideology of a 'unitary executive' to strip both Congress and our independent federal judiciary of their rightful roles."
Leahy ended his speech with the proposal for a new subcommittee, a Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee, to be chaired by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill) to "help us better fulfill our role in a challenging global environment. Over the years we have enacted laws against torture, human trafficking and war crimes, for example." I don't think I'm alone in saying I certainly look forward to Leahy's leadership.