At a Glance
- Career History: Vermont State's Attorney Chittenden County (1966 to 1974); Attorney (1964 to 1966)
- Birthday: March 31, 1940
- Hometown: Montpelier, Vt.
- Alma Mater: Saint Michael's College, B.A., 1961; Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1964
- Spouse: Marcelle
- Religion: Catholic
- Committees: Chairman, Judiciary Committee ; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee ; Appropriations ; Rules and Administration
- DC Office: 433 Russell Senate Office Building, 202-224-4242
Path to Power
Leahy was born to Howard and Alba Leahy on March 31, 1940, in Montpelier, Vt. Born legally blind in one eye, Leahy took up his lifelong hobby of photography, which he has said thankfully only requires one good eye. (His photos have appeared in TIME and USA Today.) He attended St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vt. and received his B.A. in 1961. He graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1964.
It didn't take Leahy long to make his way to the Senate. After law school, he was a practicing attorney for two years, until he assumed the elected office of Chittenden County State Attorney. He served in that role until 1974, when he was elected to the Senate at the age of 34.
In the 110th Congress, Leahy voted with his Democratic colleagues 95.4 percent of the time, hardly missing a vote. Unlike some legislators, whose pet projects occupy almost all of their time, Leahy has had his hand in everything from halting child obesity to establishing a safety net for Vermont's milk producers to promoting organic foods to co-chairing the Senate's National Guard Caucus.
His last several years in Congress have been marked by his 2002 vote refusing to grant the president authorization to use force in Iraq, the measure that served as the precursor to the Iraq war. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed the measure, 77 to 23, with Senate Democrats splitting 29-21 in favor of authorizing force. Thanks to his fight against many of President Bush's measures, Leahy is seen as an activist Democrat, slightly to the left from his own party on defense issues.
Perhaps Leahy's closest allies in the Senate are on the Judiciary Committee that he chairs. He has worked closely with former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).
Because Vermont's congressional delegation is so small (consisting of two senators and one representative), the state's elected officials find it more necessary than most to collaborate.