Honorary Degree Citation: Senator Patrick J. Leahy

As a U.S. senator for a remarkable 40 years, now the most senior senator in the chamber and president pro tempore emeritus, you have represented the needs and interests of the people of Vermont with distinction, Yankee-style prudence, and honesty. Your innate sense of justice, the rights of people, and our responsibilities to the land have made an indelible impression in the hearts and minds of Vermonters.

Born in Montpelier and a graduate of Saint Michael’s College, you received your J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center before serving for eight years as Vermont State’s attorney in Chittenden County. Now, after four decades in the U.S. Senate, you are ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and senior-most member of the Appropriations Committee and Agriculture Committee.

You have always been active on human rights issues, writing the first law by any government to ban the export of land mines and playing a key role in the international treaty banning these weapons. Ranked among the top environmental legislators by the nation’s foremost conservation organizations, you helped secure more than $70 million in federal funds to clean up Lake Champlain and added more than 125,000 acres to the Green Mountain National Forest. 

You have been the Senate’s leading champion of open government and the Freedom of Information Act, and Internet magazine called you the most “Net-friendly” member of Congress. You are an accomplished and widely published photographer yourself: your recent exhibit in Washington and Brattleboro, titled “World Leaders & Global Citizens,” speaks to the artistry and humanism that are so highly regarded at Marlboro College.  

Even with all these accomplishments, you have also found time to be the coolest member of Congress, from being a fan of the Grateful Dead to having cameo appearances in Batman television episodes and films. In The Dark Knight Rises, where you played a Wayne Enterprises board member, you told The Joker, convincingly, “We are not intimidated by thugs.”

Your decades of dedication to the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and the needs of the Green Mountain State that Marlboro College calls home, stand as testimony to the highest principles of democracy. Senator Patrick Leahy, for your life of public service in keeping with the ideals of Marlboro College, it is our pleasure to confer upon you the degree: Doctor of Laws.