Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has been elected to serve as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the 113th Congress convenes in January, putting him in the center of issues like antitrust, immigration reform and Department of Justice oversight.
The Republican Conference voted Wednesday to confirm Goodlatte, a move that had long been expected. The previous chairman, Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), had to step down because of Republican term limits on committee chairmanships.
"The Judiciary Committee, which has far-reaching legislative jurisdiction, is one of the most active committees in Congress," Goodlatte said in a written statement. "Under my leadership, the House Judiciary Committee will play an active role in advancing a pro-growth agenda that will help to create jobs and restore economic prosperity to America."
Goodlatte said that the panel would be looking at a wide range of issues, including "protecting [c]onstitutional freedoms and civil liberties, oversight of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, legal and regulatory reform, innovation, competition and anti-trust laws, terrorism and crime, and immigration reform."
Goodlatte added, "It is likely that many of these issues will be the deciding factors in determining the future direction of our nation."
Earlier Wednesday, Goodlatte held a hearing on intellectual property and music distribution rights on the Internet, which has been a main interest of his as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.
"I suspect since that's something he's interested in we'll see an increased focus on intellectual property ideas," said Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative group Judicial Crisis Network. Otherwise, "I don't think we're going to see a real change in the direction of the committee."
On the other side, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy said it is hopeful Goodlatte and other Republicans heard the message of the recent elections and will moderate some of the party's extreme views.
"Congressman Goodlatte is obviously very conservative on many of the constitutional and legal issues we care about," said John Schachter, ACS' vice president of public education & outreach. "But if he is serious about working with colleagues across the aisle, then we are eager to see him do so."
Goodlatte has worked in a variety of leadership positions with the House Judiciary Committee since arriving in Congress.