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656 reviews
3,160 helpful votes
A crucial and influential government organization, the Senate judiciary committee considers the nominations of judges, US Attorneys and US Marshals and executive officers of the FBI, the Department of Justice and all its agencies. When a President recommends a candidate to the office of, say, a US Attorney, this is the committee which takes a look at that candidate and decides whether he or she is an appropriate nominee for the job.

The sub-committees have responsibility over a wide range of matters, many of which are particularly important or sensitive at the moment: Administrative Oversight and the Courts; Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights; The Constitution; Crime and Drugs; Human Rights and the Law; Immigration, Refugees and Border Security; and Terrorism and Homeland Security.

The Committee also plays a major role in lawmaking, since all judicial bills and resolutions that come before the Senate have then to pass through this committee, which decides whether to return them for hearing in the full Senate. The committee may also append reports helping the Senators understand the proposed legislation.

I came here looking for a webcast of a Crime and Drugs sub-committee hearing last month, about the increase in violence against the homeless. As far as I can see, all hearings are recorded as webcasts and those recordings are stored in an archive, indefinitely, and may be viewed by the public. The committee meetings themselves are also open to the public.

I found the page easily enough, but I was disappointed to find that the method by which the webcast had been embedded in the page prevented me using my normal downloaders to capture it and view it offline. Given that it was a 90 minute hearing and my free wi-fi connection is such that only about a minute of it had loaded after about ten minutes in the real world, I gave up. There will probably be other ways to capture it, but since they involve additional software this is not the place to cover them.

This was disappointing for me, but since I'm in the unusual position of having to rely on free wi-fi hotspots where I can find them, and most are up to twenty times slower than a DSL connection, it's a problem that won't affect most visitors to the site. I won't knock a point off for that. But even the available transcripts, in PDF format, are a pain, because in order to present one the site launches a javascript-powered window, rather than the PDF itself, which is then loaded into the new window. All this means that it's hard if not impossible to get the actual PDF and download it to the desktop, so there is another extensive wait while a very lengthy document has to load in real time. I gave up on the one I was trying out as a sample. I'm going to knock a point off now, for generally inconvenient viewing methods, and because the viewing of webcasts especially may be the main reason visitors come here.

Other than this, the site is informative and easy enough to navigate using the drop-down menu at the top and text links in the pages. If you're studying the steps by which the law becomes the law, and the people who administer it become government attorneys and judges, this is the place to go.

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