Chairman Goodlatte Outlines House Judiciary Committee Agenda

Goodlatte 982 (2)Says encryption & criminal justice reform are among the panel’s key priorities this year

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) appeared before a luncheon meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday afternoon, delivering remarks about his agenda as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and outlining some of the key priorities the panel is working on this year.

“It is a huge honor to serve as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,” stated Goodlatte, who took the reins of the panel in 2013.  “The Committee is at the forefront of some of the most significant issues in our history, including protecting constitutional freedoms, oversight of the departments of justice and homeland security, legal and regulatory reform, innovation, competition and antitrust laws, terrorism, crime, civil liberties, and immigration reform.  It’s likely that many of these issues will be the deciding factor in determining the future direction of our nation.”

One issue of particular importance to the Committee, the Virginia Republican noted, is criminal justice reform.  It is an issue, he added, where the Committee has not only been working with Democrats across the aisle to find a solution, but with members of the Senate across Capitol Hill.

“This is an extraordinarily bipartisan, bicameral effort,” the Chairman stated.  “It has involved a number of meetings at the White House with House Members, Senators, the President, and the Vice President.  Every line of the eight bills that we’ve passed out of the committee thus far has been negotiated line-by-line with the Democratic minority.  We anticipate having at least one more criminal justice reform bill come before the Committee for consideration very soon.  And then we’re going to bring bills to the floor dealing with prison reform, sentencing reform, and criminal intent reform.  All of these are very important, and I believe all will have very strong bipartisan support.”

In addition to criminal justice reform, Goodlatte said that the Judiciary Committee has also been focused on strengthening America’s national security through immigration reform and has approved seven bills in that regard.  These measures include:  The Asylum Control and Border Protection Act of 2015, authored by U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-3); The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act, authored by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (ID-1); and, The Protection of Children Act of 2015, authored by U.S. Rep. John Carter (TX-31).

Goodlatte has served in the House since 1993.  During his time in Congress, he has made a name for himself as a leader on Internet and high-tech issues.  He is Co-Chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus as well as Chairman of the House Republican Technology Working Group.  His background in hi-tech issues has served him well as the Judiciary Committee tackles another issue that has taken on a sense of urgency in recent months – encryption reform.

“It’s important to stress that encryption is a good thing,” he stated.  “It prevents crime, it prevents terrorist attacks, and it keeps our most valuable information safe.  Yet it is not used as effectively today as is necessary to protect against the ever increasing sophistication of foreign governments, criminal enterprises, and just plain hackers. So as we work our way through this, we need to be encouraging technology companies to develop stronger and stronger encryption as we find ways to help law enforcement deal with that. Obviously, that is a major challenge.”

Goodlatte concluded his remarks by talking about one other area where the Judiciary Committee has been working on legislation that will have a wide-ranging impact down the road – patent litigation reform.

“Last year, the bipartisan Innovation Act (H.R. 9) was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee by an overwhelming vote,” he said.  “The Innovation Act takes critical steps to combat the ever-increasing problem of abusive patent litigation. Abusive patent litigation is a drag on our economy and stifles innovation.

“Everyone from independent inventors, to start-ups, to mid and large sized businesses face this constant threat.  Tens of billions of dollars squandered on settlements and litigation expenses associated with abusive patent suits represent truly wasted capital — capital that could have been used to create new jobs, fund research and development, and create new innovation and technology start-up businesses. The Innovation Act takes the necessary steps to address abusive patent litigation while protecting legitimate property rights.

“We already have over three hundred groups supporting H.R. 9, and that list continues to grow. Recent news reports indicate that new patent lawsuits are on the rise, with many cases being filed by so-called patent trolls. This is evidence that the Innovation Act is needed to fix the abuses of our patent system, and I look forward to continuing our bipartisan work on this legislation.”

To view Chairman Goodlatte’s remarks to The Ripon Society yesterday afternoon, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.