Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) will serve as the next House Judiciary Committee chairman, a powerful congressional position with oversight of the Justice Department.
Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, won recommendation from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over other lawmakers with more seniority, including Reps. James Sensenbrenner (Wisc.) and Howard Coble (N.C.). The current chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), is at the term limit for leading a committee under House GOP rules.
Goodlatte has been involved in the ongoing congressional probe of Operation Fast and Furious, the controversial gun-walking investigation that the Attorney General has since called “fatally flawed.” In a June hearing, Goodlatte pressed Holder on what knowledge Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, had of the gun-walking tactics during the investigation. The Virginia Republican demanded to know why they hadn’t been held accountable. Weinstein has since resigned.
Goodlatte told C-SPAN this summer that it would “be a great honor to serve as chairman” of the committee. He currently chairs the intellectual property, competition and internet subcommittee. He was involved in the drafting of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which eventually was shelved after criticism from free speech advocates.
The Hill also noted that Goodlatte is an opponent of the DREAM Act, which creates a procedure for undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship if they were brought to the United States before age 16, have been in the country for five years and graduated from high school.
UPDATE (11/29/2012): This story was updated to indicate that Goodlatte has been confirmed as the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.