John Sarbanes
Official portrait, 2022
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded byBen Cardin
Personal details
John Peter Spyros Sarbanes

(1962-05-22) May 22, 1962 (age 62)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Dina Caplan
(m. 1988)
RelativesPaul Sarbanes (father)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

John Peter Spyros Sarbanes (/ˈsɑːrˌbnz/ SARR-baynz; born May 22, 1962) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the U.S. representative for Maryland's 3rd congressional district since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes Annapolis, the entirety of Howard County, and parts of Anne Arundel and Carroll counties.

Early life

John Sarbanes is the eldest son of former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (who served as a U.S. representative from 1971 to 1977 and a senator from 1977 to 2007) and Christine Dunbar Sarbanes, a teacher. He was born in Baltimore, having Greek origin on his father's side and English on his mother's,[1] and graduated from the Gilman School there in 1980.[2] He received a B.A., cum laude, from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1984, after completing a 194-page long senior thesis titled "The American Intelligence Community Abroad: Potential for a Breakdown Case Study, Greece, 1967".[3] Sarbanes then received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was co-chair of the Law School Democrats, in 1988.[2]

After college, Sarbanes served for seven years with the Maryland State Department of Education, working on Maryland’s public school system. He later clerked with Baltimore Judge J. Frederick Motz on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.[4] Sarbanes spent his professional legal career at the law firm of Venable LLP in Baltimore from 1989 to 2006, where he was chair of health care practice from 2000 to 2006 and a member of the hiring committee from 1992 to 1996.[2]

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Environmental education

See also: No Child Left Inside (movement)

Sarbanes has introduced H.R. 2054, the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI), which seeks to both improve education in the nation's public schools and protect the environment by "creating a new environmental education grant program, providing teacher training for environmental education, and including environmental education as an authorized activity under the Fund for the Improvement of Education."[8] NCLI also requires states that participate in the environmental education grant programs to develop a plan to ensure that high school graduates are environmentally literate. This legislation is supported by a "coalition of over 1200 local, regional, and national organizations representing millions of concerned citizens who are anxious to see a new commitment to environmental education."[8]

Government reforms

Main article: For the People Act

Following their victory in the 2018 midterm elections, House Democrats unveiled their first bill for the 116th Congress. This bill, the For the People Act, was primarily authored by Sarbanes. It passed the House in 2019, but died in the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill was introduced again in the 117th Congress and passed the House.

The bill was a package of Democratic electoral goals. It would enable small-dollar public funding of congressional elections, establish automatic national voter registration, expand early and online voter registration, and provide greater federal support for state voting systems. The bill bans members of Congress from serving on corporate boards, and requires political advocacy groups to disclose donors. It also requires presidents to disclose their tax returns, and the establishment of a Supreme Court ethics code.[9] It includes a provision to decrease gerrymandering by creating independent commissions.[10] At the time, Sarbane's district was considered one of the worst gerrymanders in the United States.[11]


John Sarbanes at his swearing-in ceremony gesturing towards his father on the far left, former Senator Paul Sarbanes

See also: 2006 United States House of Representatives elections in Maryland § District 3

Sarbanes sought the Democratic nomination for Maryland's 3rd congressional district after 10-term incumbent Ben Cardin gave up the seat to run for the Senate seat of John Sarbanes's father, Paul Sarbanes. The primary campaign included State Senator Paula Hollinger, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson, and former Maryland Democratic Party Treasurer Oz Bengur. Sarbanes won the nomination on September 12, 2006, with 31.9% of the vote. His Republican opponent in the general election was Annapolis marketing executive John White. The 3rd is a heavily Democratic district that has been in that party's hands since 1927, and few expected Sarbanes to have much difficulty in the election. Sarbanes also benefited from name recognition; his father represented the district from 1971 to 1977. On November 7, 2006, Sarbanes won the general election with 64% of the vote to White's 34% and Libertarian Charles Curtis McPeek's 2%. He has been reelected eight times with no substantive opposition. On October 26, 2023, Sarbanes announced he would not seek reelection in 2024.[12]

Political positions

Sarbanes voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time in the 117th Congress, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.[13]

According to FiveThirtyEight, Sarbanes has voted with Biden 96.2% of the time in the 118th Congress through 2023.[14]

Personal life

Sarbanes lives in Towson, Maryland, with his three children and wife Dina Eve Caplan, whom he met at Harvard and married in 1988.[4][15]

Sarbanes is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.[16]


  1. ^ "S. Doc. 109-34. Tributes Delivered in Congress to Paul S. Sarbanes". United States Government Publishing Office. 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "John P. Sarbanes, U.S. Representative (Maryland)". Maryland Manual On-Line. Maryland State Archives. February 23, 2023. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  3. ^ Sarbanes, John Peter Spyros (1984). The American Intelligence Community Abroad: Potential for a Breakdown Case Study, Greece, 1967 (Senior thesis). Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
  4. ^ a b "Biography of Congressman John Sarbanes". Office of Congressman John Sarbanes. Archived from the original on April 12, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  5. ^ "Our Members". International Conservation Caucus. U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  6. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on January 20, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  7. ^ "Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus – Members". NG9-1-1 Institute. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "John Sarbanes Official Biography". Archived from the original on November 28, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2009.
  9. ^ Mascaro, Lisa (November 30, 2018). "House Democrats' 1st bill aims for sweeping reforms". AP NEWS. Archived from the original on May 11, 2023. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  10. ^ Meyers, David (November 7, 2019). "The 12 worst House districts: Experts label gerrymandering's dirty dozen". The Fulcrum. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  11. ^ Ingraham, Christopher (May 15, 2014). "America's most gerrymandered congressional districts". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  12. ^ "Sarbanes Statement on Decision to Not Seek Re-election in 2024". Congressman John Sarbanes (Press release). October 26, 2023. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  13. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron; Wiederkehr, Anna (April 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  14. ^ Yang, Tia; Burton, Cooper (January 29, 2024). "How often every member of Congress voted with Biden in 2023". FiveThirtyEight. ABC News. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  15. ^ "Dina Eve Caplan, Lawyer, to Marry". The New York Times. August 21, 1988. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  16. ^ "Profile: Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD)". Armenian National Committee of America. Archived from the original on August 8, 2022. Retrieved August 8, 2022.