Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Patrick Leahy's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

Office: U.S. Senate (VT) - Sr, Democratic
On The Ballot: Running, Democratic for U.S. Senate
Project Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches.
Patrick Leahy refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

In response to the increasing unwillingness of candidates to answer issue questions, Project Vote Smart has researched Presidential and Congressional candidates' public records to determine candidates' likely responses on certain key issues. These issue positions, from the year 2010, are provided below as a courtesy to voters.

Pro-choice Inferred Answer Abortion Issues: Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Planned Parenthood. 2008. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of Planned Parenthood 92 percent in 2008. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S 3. 108th Congress. A bill to prohibit the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 21 October 2003. (
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent in 2009. (
  • National Right to Life Committee. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the National Right to Life Committee 0 percent in 2009. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 2321 to S 1692. 106th Congress. To express the sense of Congress in support of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 21 October 1999. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 3330 to S Amdt 3325 to HR 3043. 110th Congress. To prohibit the provision of funds to grantees who perform abortions. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted NO on 18 October 2007. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 3896 to S Amdt 3899 to S 1200. 110th Congress. To modify a section relating to limitation on use of funds appropriated to the Service. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted NO on 26 February 2008. (
Unknown Position Unknown Answer Budget, Spending, and Tax Issues: Do you support the elimination of the federal estate tax? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • National Taxpayers Union. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the National Taxpayers Union 6 percent in 2009. (
Yes Inferred Answer Budget, Spending, and Tax Issues: Do you support using government funds in an effort to stimulate and improve the economy? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Club for Growth. 2008. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the Club for Growth 3 percent in 2008. (
  • Patrick Leahy. HR 1. 111th Congress. Making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 13 February 2009. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Economic Stimulus. 12 February 2009. "Mr. President, I wish to state my strong support of the economic recovery plan because the American people and their communities need it to create jobs, to stabilize the economy, and to protect those who have been most hurt by the current global economic and financial crises. Many Americans, especially my fellow Vermonters who have watched this process, look at the resistance the economic recovery plan has met from many on the other side of the aisle, and they are somewhat dispirited. They remember how readily Congress rubberstamped hundreds of billions of dollars the previous administration earmarked for Iraq. Now they see how difficult it has been to get bipartisan approval for investments here at home that are desperately needed to jump start an economy that is in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." (
No Inferred Answer Business and Employment Issues: Do you support privatizing elements of Social Security? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Patrick Leahy. FNC FOX News Sunday - Transcript. 1 May 2005. "My idea is to be able to have the president put everything on the table. He's said that he won't negotiate on any of his points. You know, that's sort of a nonstarter. He's said he wants privatization and very large cuts for the working middle class. I think that's the wrong way to start off. And I think, if you say that's non-negotiable, well, he's got a Republican majority in the House, Republican majority in the Senate. He should go to them, but he's going to find that a lot of those key Republicans are also very worried that he's set it up as being non-negotiable. I look it at-when you have a problem with Social Security, I look at what happens when you do it in a bipartisan way. Remember when Senator Moynihan and Senator Dole sat down and said, let's work together, in a bipartisan way, when there was a problem in Social Security, and they fixed it. So, I mean, there's going to be plenty-Social Security will be there for my children, your children..." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Leahy Rejects House GOP Leader's Idea For Cutting Women's Benefits By 'Gender-Adjusting' Social Security. 19 January 2005. "Adding gender discrimination to Social Security is a terrible idea. Sad to say, but it's only the latest of a series of bad ideas that would undermine a system that needs to be supported and strengthened, not dismantled and privatized? Our goal should be to strengthen Social Security and to find new ways to help Americans save for retirement, without the massive benefit cuts and trillions of dollars in new debt that the President's plan would entail. If we keep that goal in mind, we can find sound and sensible answers." (
Unknown Position Unknown Answer Crime Issues: Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants. 2005-2006. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants 90 percent in 2005-2006. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 1204 to S 1607. 103rd Congress. To provide for imposition of the penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of release rather than imposition of the death penalty. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 17 November 1993. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Issue Position: Innocence Protection Act. "Reducing the Risk that Innocent Persons May be Executed. The Innocence Protection Act is a comprehensive package of criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the risk that innocent persons may be executed. Most importantly, the bill will: (1) Ensure that convicted offenders are afforded an opportunity to prove their innocence through DNA testing (2) Help States to provide competent legal services at every stage of a death penalty prosecution (3) Enable those who can prove their innocence to recover some measure of compensation for their unjust incarceration and (4) Provide the public with more reliable and detailed information regarding the administration of the nation's capital punishment laws." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Comment On Proposed Rescission Of Final Rule On The Certification Process For State Capital Counsel Systems. 28 May 2010. "I was disturbed that the Bush Justice Department issued regulations that could have allowed states to reduce key legal process for defendants subject to the death penalty, without guaranteeing a system that provides adequate representation for capital defendants. The regulations, issued in the waning days of the last administration and without appropriate process, would have undermined the fairness and effectiveness of our criminal justice system." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Leahy Warns Against Limiting Court Appeals Of Death Penalty Cases. 13 July 2005. "The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday began consideration of a bill that would speed up executions by limiting the ability of those sentenced to death to appeal to federal court. A longtime proponent of death penalty reform, Senator Patrick Leahy, the Ranking Democratic Member of the panel, warned that the bill could drastically increase the risk of wrongful executions and incarcerations of innocent people. "I will not vote to increase the risk that more innocent people will be executed," Leahy said. More than 100 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence, said Leahy, who during the hearing, raised as an example of the need for a fair appeals process a murder case in St. Louis that was reopened this week, a decade after a man was executed for the crime." (
No Inferred Answer Education Issues: Do you support federal education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Home School Legal Defense Association. 1999-2000. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the Home School Legal Defense Association 40 percent in 1999-2000. (
  • Patrick Leahy. HR 1. 107th Congress. To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted NO on 18 December 2001. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Issue Position: Education. "The No Child Left Behind Act is the most sweeping expansion of the federal role in education in America since the 1960s and 70s, when landmark civil rights laws changed the shape of our schools. This law mandates numerous new requirements for both student testing and educational requirements for teachers. Senator Leahy voted against final passage of the No Child Left Behind Act because he believed that this approach would have a negative impact on the state of Vermont. He recognized the high quality system of standards and assessments that Vermont had established prior to No Child Left Behind. Senator Leahy also stated his fears that the Administration would not commit the funds necessary to implement these new changes, leaving Vermont's cities and towns to pay the check..." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Leahy, Feingold Introduce Bill to Reform NCLB. 17 September 2007. "'Time and again I have heard from Vermonters that No Child Left Behind's cookie cutter approach is not working for the students in our state,' said Leahy. 'To raise the bar the right way for schools and students, states need the flexibility to design accountability measures that accurately reflect actual conditions and unique characteristics in real communities. A model that works for an urban school might be completely different than one that works for Vermont's smaller, rural schools. We need to move away from a focus on penalties and failure, and toward a focus on the quality instruction that our children truly need to succeed.'" (
Yes Inferred Answer Environment and Energy Issues: Do you support enacting environmental regulations aimed at reducing the effects of climate change? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Environment America. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of Environment America 100 percent in 2009. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 4825 to S 3036. 110th Congress. In the nature of a substitute. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES for cloture on 6 June 2008. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), On President Obama's Executive Order On Higher-Efficiency Emissions Standards Sought By California, Vermont And Other States. 26 January 2009. "The previous administration blocked California, Vermont and 15 other states from implementing new greenhouse gas emission standards, even though career EPA officials supported the states. President Obama now has issued a new science-based review of the states' petition that I am confident will allow these states to take sensible steps forward to protect the public's health and the environment and to lessen our dependence on foreign oil." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Copenhagen Conference On Climate Change. 18 December 2009. "Earlier this week, Secretary of State Clinton announced on behalf of the United States the intention to work with other governments to raise $100 billion in long-term financing by 2020 to help developing countries address global climate change. This is an important commitment and an essential part of any comprehensive approach to global warming. If the United States is to play a leading role in addressing climate change, we must provide not only strong policies and resources here at home in our factories and on our farms, but also help poor countries adapt to rising sea levels and temperatures which affect agricultural productivity, and to reduce their own emissions of the greenhouse gases that affect every American as well as billions of others across the globe." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008. 6 June 2008. "Failure to address global warming is a failure to address weather catastrophes that can destroy entire Nations, a failure to address the loss of species that will never return, and a failure to pass along to future generations--our children, our grandchildren, and beyond--the kind of world we want for them." (
Yes Inferred Answer Gun Issues: Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Patrick Leahy. HR 1025. 103rd Congress. To provide for a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun, and for the establishment of a national instant criminal background check system to be contacted by firearms dealers before the transfer of any firearm. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted NO on 20 November 1993. (
  • Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 2003. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 47 percent from 1988 and 2003. (
  • Gun Owners of America. 2010. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. In 2010 Gun Owners of America gave Patrick Leahy a grade of F. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 1067 to S Amdt 1058 to HR 627. 111th Congress. To protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks and refuges. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 12 May 2009. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 1152 to S Amdt 1151 to S 1607. 103rd Congress. To restrict the manufacture, transfer, and possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 17 November 1993. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 362 to S 254. 106th Congress. To regulate the sale of firearms at guns shows. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 20 May 1999. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Reaction Of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Supreme Court Decision In District of Columbia v. Heller. 26 June 2008. "In its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court has recognized the personal right to bear arms, guaranteed in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and expressly held for the first time that our Bill of Rights includes this right among its guarantees of individual liberty and freedom. That is a good thing. This opinion should usher in a new era in which the constitutionality of government regulations of firearms are reviewed against the backdrop of this important right....Since before the nation's founding, Americans have used firearms for protection and sporting purposes. I have enjoyed target shooting since my days at St. Michael's. I know Vermonters will be relieved and encouraged to see their rights recognized, just as they were when the Supreme Court preserved the Great Writ of habeas corpus in its decision earlier this month." (
  • Patrick Leahy. On The Supreme Court's Decision In McDonald v. City of Chicago. 28 June 2010. "In its decision today in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court, following its decision in Heller, ruled that the Second Amendment applies equally to the states in addition to the federal government. At the heart of this case is the fundamental right to protect oneself in the home. Today's opinion will ensure that any firearm regulation must be measured against the right the Second Amendment secures. I support the Court's decision and believe that today's opinion strengthens the protections of our Bill of Rights. Although state and local governments will now have to proceed more carefully when enacting firearms regulations, it will be in respect of a right that belongs to all Americans. " (
Yes Inferred Answer Health Issues: Do you support a publicly-administered health insurance option? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • American Public Health Association. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the American Public Health Association 100 percent in 2009. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Burlington Free Press - Putting Patients Over Special Interests. 24 September 2004. "We should build on the pillars of our current system to ensure universal access to quality, affordable health care coverage. But in order to successfully do that we also must bring rising costs under control." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Issue Position: Health Care. "Healthcare in America is in crisis. At last count over 46 million Americans currently have no health insurance, and many more forgo insurance for at least part of each year. Disparities in health care access and quality are far too common and costs are growing at unsustainable rates. Senator Leahy has been a champion of expanding access to affordable health care, investing in life-saving biomedical research, and educating and recruiting our next generation of health care professionals." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Need For Health Care Reform Legislation. 21 May 2009. "Comprehensive health care reform can change this calculus and that is why I support the creation of a federally backed, public health insurance option." (
Yes Inferred Answer Immigration Issues: Do you support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Federation for American Immigration Reform. 2007-2008. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the Federation for American Immigration Reform 31 percent in 2007-2008. (
  • National Latino Congreso. 2007-2010. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of the National Latino Congreso 100 percent in 2007-2010. (
  • Patrick Leahy. S Amdt 4087 to S 2611. 109th Congress. To modify the conditions under which aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States are granted legal status. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 23 May 2006. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Examining the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Part II. 12 July 2006. "The lines that have been drawn by opponents to comprehensive legislation are clear: The anti-immigrant faction opposes a fair and comprehensive approach. They abhor establishing a pathway to earned citizenship. Apparently they believe this anti-immigrant position will help them in the upcoming elections. I hope not. I think we reject the best of America and our values when we refuse to recognize all that immigrants bring and mean to this country. I hope that fear and intolerance are not a winning political strategy....The Wall Street Journal editorial board recently wrote that the choice 'framed by immigration opponents as a choice between "amnesty" or border security' is a false one. It is false because we can have border security at the same time we bring out of the shadows and assimilate individuals who are hard working, honest people contributing to our economy." (
Unknown Position Unknown Answer International Policy Issues: Do you support United States military action in Afghanistan? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Peace Action West. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. Patrick Leahy supported the interests of Peace Action West 70 percent in 2009. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The President's Plan For Afghanistan. 1 December 2009. "The President inherited a faltering strategy in Afghanistan that has failed so massively that at this point there are no good answers. He deserves great credit for putting our policy through a tough and thorough review and for listening to other perspectives, and he deserves full and fair consideration of his plan by Congress and the American people. We went into Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden, who attacked us on 9-11. We all supported that. When we had him cornered the decision was made to take some of our best CIA and Special Forces out to go into Iraq - a country that posed a threat to Iran but not to us, a country that had nothing to do with 9-11, and a country that, at that time, had no Al Qaeda organization. Our focus in Afghanistan unfortunately shifted, and our attention over the years has ebbed and flowed. We then were told we must stay in Afghanistan to stop the poppy trade. Since then the price of heroin has not gone up, the supply is still constant and in some places the price is even down. Then it was said that we had to help them establish democracy, leading to Hamid Karzai stealing an election and the CIA putting his brother on the payroll. The civil government, including the police, is among the most corrupt in the world. For me it boils down to whether or not there is a convincing answer to this question: What can realistically be achieved, and is it worth putting our soldiers' lives on the line, at a million dollars a troop, as our economy continues to struggle here at home? Sizeable deployments of soldiers from Vermont and other states are only the latest compelling reasons for reaching deep to find the right answer this time. At this point I am not convinced that the hole dug earlier by a thousand bad decisions can be paved over at all." (
No Inferred Answer Social Issues: Should marriage only be between one man and one woman? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Patrick Leahy. HR 3396. 103rd Congress. To define and protect the institution of marriage. Project Vote Smart Summary: Patrick Leahy voted YES on 10 September 1996. (
  • Patrick Leahy. Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee - The Uniting American Families Act: Addressing Inequality in Federal Immigration Law. 3 June 2009. "During the past several years, Americans have increasingly come to reject the notion that their fellow Americans who are gay or lesbian should not have loving relationships. So did my own state of Vermont, which has been in the forefront in this. Federal policy should encourage, let me emphasize that, federal policy should encourage rather than restrict our opportunities as Americans to sustain a relationship to fulfill our lives." (
  • Patrick Leahy. On S.J Res 1, The Marriage Protection Amendment. 5 June 2006. "Last month, President Bush spoke eloquently about this country and our values. He emphasized something I wish that this White House and the Republican leadership of the Congress would keep in mind in connection with their efforts to demonize gay and lesbian Americans. The President said: 'We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of' - and here I insert 'marriage' for 'immigration' '-for political gain. We must always remember,' he continued, 'that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value'... Mean-spirited rhetoric does not serve this Nation or its diverse population. Our Nation would be better served if we refrained from divisiveness that is wielded like a weapon in order to score political and emotional points before an election." (
  • Patrick Leahy. Same-Sex Marriage Recognition In Vermont. 30 September 2009. "Vermonters have led the Nation by protecting families and by ensuring that children are in stable, loving environments. This is because Vermonters believe that parents should be allowed to strengthen their commitments to one another. In 2000, Vermont took a crucial step when it became the first State in the Nation to allow civil unions for same-sex couples. Recently, Vermont took another step to help sustain the relationships that fulfill our lives by becoming the first state to adopt same-sex marriage through the legislative process without a court mandate to do so." (


Candidate Answer

Official Position: Candidate had the Political Courage to address this issue directly.

Inferred Answer

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue directly, but Project Vote Smart inferred this issue position based on the candidate's public statements, voting record, and evaluations from special interest groups.

Unknown Answer

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue.

Project Vote Smart's Research: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as the candidate has submitted it. Project Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top