Lamar Seeligson Smith (born November 19, 1947) is the U.S. Representative (Republican) for Texas's 21st congressional district, serving since 1987. The district includes most of the wealthier sections of San Antonio and Austin, as well as nearly all of the Texas Hill Country. He introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act (PCIP). He also introduced the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
Early life, education, and legal career
Smith was born in San Antonio, Texas to Eloise Keith (née Seeligson) and Jamal Donald Willing. He graduated from T.M.I.: The Episcopal School of Texas (1965), Yale University (1969), and Southern Methodist University Law School (1975).
In 1969, he was hired as a management intern by the Small Business Administration in Washington, DC. He was a business and financial writer for the Christian Science Monitor (1970-72). He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1975 and went into private practice in San Antonio with the firm of Maebius and Duncan, Inc.
In 1978, he was elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Bexar County. In 1980, Smith was elected to the Bexar County based-57th District of the Texas House of Representatives. He served on the Energy Resources Committee and the Fire Ants Select Committee. In 1982, he was elected to the 3rd Pricinct of the Bexar County Commission.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1986, four-term incumbent Republican U.S.
Congressman Tom Loeffler of Texas' 21st congressional district decided to retire to run for governor of Texas. Smith led a crowded six-way primary with 31% of the vote and then defeated Van Archer in the run-off election 54%–46%. He won the general election with 61% of the vote.
During this time period, he never won re-election with less than 73% of the vote.
Smith's district was significantly altered in the 2003 Texas redistricting. While he lost most of the Hill Country to the 23rd District, he picked up a significant portion of Austin, including the area around the University of Texas, a traditional bastion of liberalism. Smith won re-election with 62% of the vote, Smith's lowest winning percentage since his initial run in 1986.
In 2006, the Supreme Court of the United States threw out the 23rd District in League of United Latin American Citizens v. on the grounds that it violated the rights of Latino voters. The 23rd is the largest district in the nation (not counting the at-large districts), stretching across 800 road miles from El Paso to San Antonio. Due to its size, nearly every district in the El Paso-San Antonio corridor had to be redrawn. Smith regained most of the Hill Country, but kept a large portion of his share of Austin, including the area around the University of Texas. Perry
In November 2006 the Texas Legislative Council found that nearly two-thirds of voters in District 21 cast ballots for statewide Republican candidates in 2004. In the November 2006 open election, Smith faced six candidates.
He defeated Democrats John Courage and Gene Kelly 60%–24%-9%. This was Smith's lowest winning percentage of his career.
He only faced one candidate, Libertarian nominee James Arthur Strohm, and defeated him with 80% of the vote.
He faced two candidates, Democratic nominee Lainey Melnick and Libertarian nominee James Arthur Strohm, and won with 69% of the vote.
Smith has consistently supported restrictions on abortion. In 2009, Smith voted to prohibit federally funded abortions. In 2006, Smith voted for the Abortion Pain Bill, which would “ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child,” and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would “prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions.” In 2008, the National Right to Life Committee, a strong advocate for the rights of the unborn, gave Representative Smith a rating of 100 on a point system in which points were assigned for actions in support of legislation they described as pro-life.
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act
On April 23, 2006 CNet reported that Smith was introducing a bill that "would expand the DMCA's restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers." The move sparked a negative response among technology enthusiasts in opposition to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
- Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011
On June 23, 2011, H.R. 2306 was introduced to Congress by Barney Frank and co-signer Ron Paul.
The intent of the bill was to end the Federal prohibition on Cannabis, turning over the regulation of marijuana to states (similar to alcohol). The bill was the first of its kind since prohibition began. H.R. 2306 would limit federal powers to interstate transfer; while laws for cultivation, sales, use, and taxation would be determined by each state. This bill was well received by the public, especially medical marijuana patients and activists.
Lamar Smith informed reporters that he had no intention of considering the bill or providing it with a hearing. With Smith's position as chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, he has great influence on what bills will be considered.
Smith stated that "Marijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S., The Food and Drug Administration has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease." According to the National Cancer Institute, "Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the laboratory and the clinic for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite," though "there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest Cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy." Smith also stated that "Decriminalizing marijuana will only lead to millions more Americans becoming addicted to drugs and greater profits for drug cartels who fund violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Allowing states to determine their own marijuana policy flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent."
On June 24, 2011, Lamar Smith's Facebook page was flooded with protests from citizens, asking him to change his position on the bill and calling for a fair hearing. Smith's Facebook page was temporarily taken down soon after, to be returned void of all comments related to H.R. 2306 and with future comments disable The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) encouraged MMJ patients and activists to contact Smith via his phone, which was soon turned to an automatic answering machine, stating the office was closed.
In 2011 Smith had received $37,250 in campaign contributions from the Beer, Wine and Liquor Lobby, and $65,800 total between 2009 and 2011. Maplight.org listed the Beer, Wine, and Liquor Lobby as third among Smith's top ten campaign contributors.
- Patent reform
Smith was instrumental in passing the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, a major reform of the U.S. patent system.
Along with other congresspersons, Smith introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a law against copyright infringement and other illegal activities on the Internet. He also introduced the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (PCIP), which changes sentencing rules and mandates that ISPs keep information (such as name, IPs, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers) for each customer a year after they leave. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-California) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) criticized PIPA. Lofgren said a better name would be "Keep Every Americans' Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act". Conyers said the bill would allow use of the information for purposes entirely unrelated to fighting child pornography.
Smith is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
Smith is a Christian Scientist. His wife, Elizabeth Lynn Schaefer, is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. He divides his time between homes in San Antonio and Hyannisport, Massachusetts. They have 2 children, Nell Seeligson (born 1976) and Tobin Wells (born 1979), from his previous marriage.
February 16th, 2012