About the Chair

Senator Durbin

Dick Durbin

of Illinois

Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois and the state’s senior senator. Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 5, 1996, and re-elected in 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2020, Durbin fills the seat left vacant by the retirement of his long-time friend and mentor, U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

Durbin has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 22 years, during which time he has been Ranking Member of the Immigration Subcommittee (2017-2021); Ranking Member of the Constitution Subcommittee (2015-2016); Chair of the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights Subcommittee (2011-2014); Founding Chair of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee (2007-2008, 2009-2010); Chairman of the Crime Subcommittee (2009); and Ranking Member of the Corrections and Rehabilitation Subcommittee (2005-2006).

Durbin is a longtime champion of comprehensive immigration reform and the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Dream Act, which he first introduced 20 years ago to give young immigrants who grew up in this country a path to citizenship. In April 2010, he was the first member of Congress to call for the Obama Administration to stop deporting Dreamers, and he successfully pressed the Administration to establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Durbin was the lead Democratic sponsor of the First Step Act of 2018, the most significant criminal justice reform legislation in a generation. Durbin authored the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which was the first law to reduce federal drug sentences since the beginning of the war on drugs. Durbin was the lead Democratic sponsor of the Opioid Quota Reform Act, which since 2018 has directed the Drug Enforcement Administration to reduce the overproduction of addictive opioids.

Durbin has worked for years to combat hate crimes and domestic terrorism, including holding the first-ever hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims in 2011, as well as a 2012 hearing on the threat of far-right violent extremism. Durbin, who has championed restoring and strengthening the Voting Rights Act, has held multiple hearings to expose voter suppression efforts.

Durbin, who has participated in confirmation hearings for seven Supreme Court Justices, has long advocated for increased diversity and fairness on the federal bench. He has also led efforts on increasing transparency in federal courts, Department of Justice oversight, reducing gun violence, reforming bankruptcy laws to help students and workers, and protecting intellectual property.

Senator Durbin makes approximately 50 round trips a year between Washington and Illinois. He is married to Loretta Schaefer Durbin. Their family consists of three children--Christine (deceased), Paul, and Jennifer--as well as six grandchildren. They reside in Springfield.

To read more about previous Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee, click here.