“With my time as chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte said in a statement.
His retirement is just the latest in a series of veteran Republican lawmakers who have announced their departures. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who had previously chaired the Judiciary Committee, revealed last month that he would retire.
Goodlatte was a sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was eventually sidelined in Congress in 2012. For the past several years, he has been conducting hearings on the state of current copyright laws, and unveiled a series of policy proposals last year that called for changes to the Copyright Office. But the Judiciary Committee had yet to tackle some of the thornier issues that have pitted Hollywood against Silicon Valley, such as the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The latter provides protections for websites and internet providers for third-party content placed on their platforms.
Goodlatte was first elected in 1992. There had been speculation that he was pondering retirement even before Tuesday’s elections, in which Democrats made unexpected gains throughout Virginia in the race for governor, state offices, and the state legislature.
Mitch Glazier, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said of Goodlatte, “His ability to manage complex issues has made him one of the most respected Members of Congress, and we are personally grateful for all he has done to protect the rights of music creators across the country.”