Freshmen Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) are the newest members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel with oversight of the Justice Department, intellectual property laws and presidential nominations.
Cruz and Flake are new to the chamber and take the place of two outgoing members. Cruz replaces Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), as Coburn moves to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Flake takes the seat of now-retired Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) will remain the ranking member of the committee.
Cruz, a Tea Party darling, served as the Texas solicitor general from 2003 to 2008 and has argued before the Supreme Court nine times. He has also authored more than 80 high court briefs.
Flake, who is not a lawyer, comes to the Senate after a decade in the House of Representatives. Before joining Congress, Flake worked as executive director of the Goldwater Institute, which is headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz.
The only other new member of the committee is Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who fills the spot of retired Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).
The other Republicans remaining on the committee are Orrin Hatch (Utah), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Mike Lee (Utah). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) suprisied some on Capitol Hill when he decided to remain chairman of the Judiciary after he was offered the top spot with the powerful Appropriations Committee.