John Sarbanes
Rep. John Sarbanes official portrait, 117th Congress.jpg
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 60)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Dina Caplan
(m. 1988)
RelativesPaul Sarbanes (father)
Residence(s)Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
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 who is the U.S. representative for Maryland's 3rd congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes the state capital of Annapolis, central portions of the city of Baltimore, and parts of Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, and Baltimore counties.

Early life

John Sarbanes is the eldest son of former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1971 to 1977 and as a United States 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, Congressman 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)

Congressman Sarbanes has introduced H.R. 2054, the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI). This Act seeks to both improve education in the nation's public schools and to 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, Democrats in the House unveiled its first House bill for the 116th Congress. This bill, entitled 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 and 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 proposed banning members of Congress from serving on corporate boards, and called for requiring political advocacy groups to disclose donors. It also required presidents to disclose their tax returns, and the establishment of a Supreme Court ethics code.[9] It also included a provision to decrease gerrymandering by creating independent commissions, this is despite the fact that Sarbanes' district is one of the most gerrymandered districts in the United States.[10]


John Sarbanes at his swearing-in ceremony gesturing towards his father on the far left, former Senator Paul Sarbanes
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' 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. However, 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, while White received 34% of the vote and Libertarian Charles Curtis McPeek received 2%. He has been reelected six times with no substantive opposition.

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][11]


  1. ^ "S. Doc. 109-34. Tributes Delivered in Congress to Paul S. Sarbanes". 207.
  2. ^ a b c "John P. Sarbanes, U.S. Representative". Maryland State Archives. Archived from the original on 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
  3. ^ Sarbanes, John Peter Spyros. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (ed.). "The American Intelligence Community Abroad: Potential for a Breakdown Case Study, Greece, 1967". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b "Biography of Congressman John Sarbanes". Office of Congressman John Sarbanes. Archived from the original on 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
  5. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on 20 January 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b "John Sarbanes Official Biography". Archived from the original on 2009-11-28. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  9. ^ "House Democrats' 1st bill aims for sweeping reforms". AP NEWS. 2018-11-30. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  10. ^ Meyers, David (7 November 2019). "The 12 worst House districts: Experts label gerrymandering's dirty dozen". The Fulcrum. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Dina Eve Caplan, Lawyer, to Marry". The New York Times. August 21, 1988. Retrieved 2007-04-22.