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John Cornyn

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John Cornyn

John Cornyn
Senate Assistant Majority Leader
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by Dick Durbin
United States Senator
from Texas
Assumed office
December 1, 2002
Serving with Ted Cruz
Preceded by Phil Gramm
Senate Assistant Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by Jon Kyl
Succeeded by Dick Durbin
49th Attorney General of Texas
In office
January 13, 1999 – December 1, 2002
Governor George W. Bush
Rick Perry
Preceded by Dan Morales
Succeeded by Greg Abbott
Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
In office
January 2, 1991 – October 18, 1997
Governor Ann Richards
George W. Bush
Preceded by Franklin Spears
Succeeded by Deborah Hankinson
Personal details
Born John Cornyn III
(1952-02-02) February 2, 1952
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sandy Cornyn
Children 2
Alma mater Trinity University (B.A.)
St. Mary's University (J.D.)
University of Virginia (LL.M.)
Religion Church of Christ
Website Senate website

John Cornyn III (born February 2, 1952) is the senior United States Senator from Texas, serving since 2002. He is a member of the Republican Party and the current Senate Majority Whip for the 114th Congress. Cornyn previously served as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2007 to 2011.[1]

Born in Houston, Cornyn is a graduate from Trinity University and St. Mary's University School of Law, receiving his LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Cornyn was a Judge on Texas' 37th District Court from 1985 to 1991, until he was elected an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, where he served 1991 to 1997. In 1998, Cornyn was elected Attorney General of Texas, serving one term until winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2002. He was re-elected to a second term in 2008 and successfully ran for a third term in 2014.


  • Early life, education, and legal career 1
  • Attorney General 2
    • 1998 election 2.1
    • Accomplishments 2.2
  • United States Senate 3
    • Elections 3.1
    • Tenure 3.2
    • Committee assignments 3.3
    • Current Legislation 3.4
  • Political positions 4
    • Civil rights and law enforcement 4.1
    • Defense and homeland security 4.2
    • Social policy 4.3
    • Fiscal policy 4.4
    • Gun rights 4.5
    • Victims Rights 4.6
  • Electoral history 5
  • Personal life 6
  • Sources 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life, education, and legal career

Cornyn was born in Houston, the son of Atholene Gale Cornyn (née Danley) and John Cornyn II, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force.[2] He attended the American School in Japan while growing up when his family moved to Tokyo.[3] He graduated from Trinity University in 1973, where he majored in journalism and was a member of Chi Delta Tau.[4][5] He earned a J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1977 and an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995.[6][7] He was named the St. Mary's Distinguished Law School Graduate in 1994 and a Trinity University Distinguished Alumnus in 2001.[8]

He served in San Antonio for six years as a district judge before being elected as a Republican in 1990 to the Texas Supreme Court, on which he served for seven years.

Attorney General

1998 election

In 1998 Cornyn decided to run to become Texas Attorney General. In the March primary, Barry Williamson, Railroad Commissioner, placed first with 38% of the vote but failed to get the 50% threshold necessary to win the Republican nomination. Cornyn, then a state Supreme Court Justice, got second place with 32%.[9] In the April run-off election, Cornyn defeated Williamson 58% to 42%.[10] In the general election, Cornyn defeated Jim Mattox, former attorney general (1983–1991) and U.S. Congressman, with 54% of the vote.[11] Cornyn became only the second Republican to hold the position.


He created the Texas Internet Bureau to investigate illegal internet practices. He fought against government waste and corruption with his investigation of fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.[12]

However, Cornyn was criticized for failing to investigate in a timely manner the notorious false drug convictions of numerous African-Americans in Tulia, Texas. An Austin Chronicle article on September 6, 2002, noted, "After months of criticism from civil rights groups and state and national media, state attorney general and U.S. Senate candidate John Cornyn announced that his office will finally investigate the notorious 1999 drug bust in the Panhandle town of Tulia. In most cases, the testimony of a single narcotics agent led to the arrests of 46 people—43 of whom were black. The accused represented 16% of the town's black population; 14 still languish in prisons scattered around Texas".[13]

In 2005 Cornyn's name was mentioned among possibilities to replace Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O'Connor or William Rehnquist.[14]

United States Senate



In the 2002 U.S. Senate Primary in Texas, Cornyn was the candidate promoted and supported by the Texas Republican Party. He easily defeated the five other candidates in the Republican Primary while disdaining the opportunity to debate the other candidates. Cornyn defeated his closest Republican challenger, seniority, owing to a 1980 Rules Committee policy that no longer gave seniority to senators who entered Congress early for the purpose of gaining advantageous office space.


Texas has not elected a Democrat in a statewide election since 1994, and according to Rasmussen polling, in October 2008 Cornyn had an approval rating of 50%.[15] Texas House of Representatives member/Afghanistan War veteran Rick Noriega secured his place as Cornyn's Democratic challenger in the March 4 primary, beating out opponents Gene Kelly, Ray McMurrey, and Rhett Smith. The same Rasmussen poll showed Cornyn leading Noriega 47% to 43%, suggesting that this race might have proved to be unexpectedly competitive. However, most polls showed a much wider margin. Christian activist Larry Kilgore of Mansfield, was a Republican challenger for the March 2008 primary election, but Cornyn easily won the Republican Primary.[16]

Yvonne Adams Schick was the Libertarian Party's nominee.[17] In addition, the Green Party of Texas sought ballot access for its candidate David B. Collins.[18]

John Cornyn speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Cornyn succeeded in his reelection in 2014. He is now Senate Majority Whip. [19] He won the Republican primary with 59% of the vote.


In 2004 Cornyn co-founded and became the co-chairman of the U.S. Senate India Caucus.[20] Cornyn was selected by his colleagues in December 2006 to be a member of the five-person Republican Senate leadership team as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.[21]

Cornyn has received various awards and recognitions, including the 2005 Border Texan of the Year Award; the National Child Support Enforcement Association's Children's Champion Award; the American Farm Bureau Federation's Friend of Farm Bureau Award; the Texas Association of Business's (TAB) Fighter for Free Enterprise Award; the National Federation of Independent Business's (NFIB) Guardian of Small Business Award; the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders's (CONLAMIC) Latino Leadership Award; and the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce's (TAMACC) International Leadership Legislative Award; among others.

In 2005 Cornyn gained notice by connecting the Supreme Court's reluctance to hear arguments for sustaining Terri Schiavo's life with the recent murders of Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother as well as the courtroom murder of Judge Rowland Barnes. Cornyn said: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and building up to the point where some people engage in violence".[22] His statement and a similar one by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were widely denounced, including by the New York Times.[23] Cornyn later said that he regretted the statement.[24]

In 2005 the Project On Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, presented Cornyn and Senator Patrick Leahy with its first ever Bi-Partisan Leadership Award in honor of their cooperation on issues of government oversight and transparency, including their co-sponsorship of the OPEN Government Act of 2005, which prevented burying exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act in legislation.[25]

Cornyn has been described by Jim Jubak of MSN Money as one of "Big Oil's ten favorite members of Congress", as he has received more money from the oil and gas industry than all but six other members of Congress.[26]

On the day of Obama's inauguration, it was reported that Cornyn would prevent Hillary Rodham Clinton from being confirmed as secretary of state by a unanimous floor vote that day. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman reported to the Associated Press that a roll call vote would be held instead on the following day, January 21, 2009, for the Clinton confirmation and that it was expected Clinton would "receive overwhelming bipartisan support".[27] The vote was 94–2 in her favor, with only Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC) and David Vitter (R-LA) voting in opposition.[28]

As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn was a strong supporter of Norm Coleman's various court challenges to the election certification.[29] Cornyn advocated for Coleman to bring the case before the federal court, and had said the trial and appeals could take years to complete.[30] Cornyn had threatened that Republicans would wage a "World War III" if the Senate Democrats had attempted to seat Democratic candidate Al Franken before the appeals were complete.[31] Coleman conceded after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Democratic candidate Al Franken. On November 14, 2012, Cornyn was elected Senate minority whip by his peers.[32]

In February 2013, Cornyn became one of the sponsors of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act to expedite open access to taxpayer-funded research.[33]

Committee assignments

Current Legislation

  • BILL S.2066 - 114th Congress (2015-2016)[34]
  • RESOLUTION S.Res.259 - 114th Congress (2015-2016) [35]
  • RESOLUTION S.J.Res.22 - 114th Congress (2015-2016)[36]

To see more legislation from Senator Cornyn go to

Political positions

Cornyn was ranked by

Legal offices
Preceded by
Dan Morales
Attorney General of Texas
Succeeded by
Greg Abbott
United States Senate
Preceded by
Phil Gramm
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Served alongside: Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ted Cruz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Phil Gramm
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Texas
(Class 2)

2002, 2008, 2014
Most recent
Preceded by
Kay Hutchison
Vice Chairperson of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
John Thune
Preceded by
John Ensign
Chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Succeeded by
Jerry Moran
Preceded by
Jon Kyl
Senate Republican Whip
United States Senate
Preceded by
Phil Gramm
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Served alongside: Kay Hutchison, Ted Cruz
Preceded by
Jon Kyl
Senate Majority Whip
Succeeded by
Dick Durbin
Preceded by
Dick Durbin
Senate Majority Whip
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Lamar Alexander
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Richard Burr

External links

  1. ^ website
  2. ^ "Rootsweb Senatorial Genealogies". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  3. ^ The American School in Japan
  4. ^ "U.S. Senator To Address Trinity University Undergraduates". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Alumni Association Foundation – Chi Delta Tau". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Senator John Cornyn to Speak at Opening of Center for Terrorism Law as St. Mary's University School of Law". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Alumni in the News, 2002". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  8. ^ "John Cornyn Biography". John Cornyn Senate. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  9. ^ Our Campaigns – TX Attorney General – R Primary Race – Mar 10, 1998
  10. ^ "". Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ Our Campaigns – TX Attorney General Race – Nov 03, 1998
  12. ^ Online NewsHour: The Texas Senate Race – John Cornyn Biography
  13. ^ Apple, Lauri (September 6, 2002). "Tulia, Too Late". The Auston Chronicle. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Possible Nominees to the Supreme Court". The Washington Post. July 1, 2005. 
  15. ^ Rasmussen Reports on Texas
  16. ^ "Noriega avoids runoff in Senate bid; Cornyn wins easily", The Dallas Morning News
  17. ^ Libertarian Party of Texas website
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Senate GOP leaders look outside as they run for re-election". CNN. July 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ "India Caucus formed in US Senate". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  21. ^ "Senate Republican Conference: About the SRC". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  22. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, p. 248. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-51640-2
  23. ^ "The Judges Made Them Do It". The New York Times. April 6, 2005. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Judge, her family slain, urges home security for jurists". CNN. May 19, 2005. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Good Government Award Home Page", retrieved July 1, 2010
  26. ^ "Big Oil's 10 favorite members of Congress". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  27. ^ article on Hillary Clinton confirmation as Secretary of State
  28. ^ CNN broadcast, The Situation Room, January 21, 2009
  29. ^ Raju, Manu (March 17, 2009). "GOP eyes Bush v. Gore for Coleman". Politico. Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  30. ^ Hasen, Richard (March 18, 2009). ?"Coleman v. Franken bite Democrats in Bush v. Gore"Franken's Monster Will . Slate. Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  31. ^ Raju, Manu (March 30, 2009). "In Minnesota, it's still November". Politico. Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  32. ^ Cornyn gets GOP’s No. 2 Senate post |
  33. ^ Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Mike Doyle and Kevin Yoder Introduce Bill Expanding Access to Federally Funded Research – Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
  34. ^ "John Cornyn | | Library of Congress". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  35. ^ "John Cornyn | | Library of Congress". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  36. ^ "John Cornyn | | Library of Congress". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  37. ^ "National Journal: 2013 Vote Ratings". 
  38. ^ "Bush rallies immigration bill's GOP foes", The Dallas Morning News June 13, 2006
  39. ^ "Corrections". The Washington Post. July 13, 2004. Retrieved September 1, 2015. The June [sic] 12 Politics column quoted Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) discussing gay marriage in a recent speech to the Heritage Foundation. The written text released by Cornyn's office contained the quote, but his office says the senator did not include it in his delivered remarks. 
  40. ^ Romano, Lois (July 12, 2004). "In Oklahoma, GOP Race Not a Given". The Washington Post. 
  41. ^ "[Boys in the Ban]".  
  42. ^ "Washington Post Article, 9/23/05". 
  43. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress – 2nd Session". U.S. Senate. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  44. ^  
  45. ^ Dana Bash and Ted Barrett, CNN (February 26, 2013). "Top Senate Republican doubts damage from defense cuts.". CNN. 
  46. ^ a b c d e "John Cornyn on the Issues". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  47. ^ "Votes by John Cornyn". Congress votes database (Washington Post). Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  48. ^ Milbank, Dana (September 16, 2005). "Final Day of Nomination Hearings: Yawn.". The Washington Post. 
  49. ^ "". El Paso 
  50. ^ "Top Republican opposes extending U.S. payroll tax cut (Reuters)". November 7, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  51. ^ "S. 1025: Fair Tax Act of 2007 (". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  52. ^ "LCV_2006_Scorecard_final.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  53. ^ "". August 12, 2014. 
  54. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home". Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  55. ^ Lavender, Paige (December 10, 2013). "'"GOP Senator: Cruz Effort Was 'Not Achievable. Huffington Post. 
  56. ^ Manu Raju and Burgess Everett. "Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote". POLITICO. 
  57. ^ "Politifact-Texas". Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  58. ^ Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times. 
  59. ^ Miller, Emily (January 15, 2014). "MILLER: Texas Shootout - John Cornyn and Steve Stockman Senate race is all about gun rights". Washington Times. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  60. ^ Texas Monthly, Dan Solomon, 9/24/2013, “John Cornyn’s Quest To End “Murderabilia“
  61. ^ Military Times, Joe Gould, 10/1/2013, “Sale of Hasan letter prompts proposed ban on 'murderabilia'“
  62. ^ Fox News, Channel 7 Austin, Texas, 9/20/2013, “Sen. Cornyn seeks to ban 'murderabilia'“
  63. ^ "Office of the Secretary of State 2014 General Election Election Night Returns". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  64. ^ "Cornyn is Mr. Southb Texas", Laredo Morning Times, August 5, 2014, p. 3A
  65. ^ Goldmacher, Shane (June 17, 2013). "Sen. Cornyn Reveals Not One, Not Two, but Three Public Pensions Atop His Salary". National Journal. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 


  • "Office of the Secretary of State". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 


Cornyn receives payments from 3 separate state and local government pensions in addition to his Senate salary.[65]

In August 2014, Cornyn was named "Mr. South Texas" for the 118th Washington's Birthday Celebration in Laredo in February 2015. WBCA president Veronica Castillon said that Cornyn "loves Laredo, and it shows through his attention and actions ..."[64]

Cornyn gained national attention when he released a video referring to himself as "Big Bad John." The video was featured on comedy shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.

Cornyn and his wife, the former Sandy Hansen, have two daughters.

Personal life

Texas U.S. Senate Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Cornyn 2,480,991 55
Democratic Ron Kirk 1,946,681 43
Libertarian Scott Jameson 35,538 1
Green Roy Williams 25,051 <1
Texas U.S. Senate Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Cornyn (incumbent) 4,326,639 55
Democratic Rick Noriega 3,383,890 43
Libertarian Yvonne Adams Schick 184,729 2
United States Senate election in Texas, 2014[63]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Cornyn 2,855,068 62
Democratic David Alameel 1,594,252 34
Libertarian Rebecca Paddock 133,467 3
Green Emily Marie Sanchez 54,587 1
Independent Mohammed Tahiro 1,178 <1
Majority 1,022,814 22
Total votes 4,638,552 100
Voter turnout 33%
Republican hold

Electoral history

In 2013, inspired by a Nidal Hasan letter put up for sale by artist Kelly Hutchison, Conryn decided to continue working on his bill. The listing claimed that all proceeds would be donated to charity, and the letter was reported to have sold anywhere from $2000 USD[61] to $500,000 USD[62] by various news sources.

Senator John Cornyn has long been opposed to anyone profiting from memorabilia tied to convicted murderers, and had made three attempts thus far to pass acts against this. He introduced his first “Stop the Sale of Murderabilia to Protect the Dignity of Crime Victims Act” in 2007, which died in committee. He then revived it three years later with cosponsor Amy Klobuchar. The 2010 version of the “Murderabilia” bill met the same fate as the first. [60]

Victims Rights

In January 2014, Senator Cornyn introduced the "Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act". The bill would provide interstate reciprocity for persons with concealed weapons permits. Cornyn described the bill as "It’s like a driver’s license. It doesn’t trump state laws. Say you have a carry permit in Texas; then you use it in another state that has a concealed-carry law.”[59] He is rated "A" by the National Rifle Association.[46]

In April 2013, Senator Cornyn was one of 46 senators to vote against the passing of a bill which would have expanded background checks for all buyers. Cornyn voted with 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats to stop the passage of the bill. The New York Times gave a 1% chance of Senator Cornyn voting Yea on the bill.[58]

Gun rights

Cornyn voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008 also known as the Wall Street bailout, and later voted to end the program.[57]

Cornyn joined other Republican leaders to block fellow Texas Senator Ted Cruz's procedural move to reject an increase in the debt ceiling.[56]

Cornyn opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) in December 2009,[53] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[54] Cornyn stated that Senator Cruz's efforts to defund Obamacare were "unachievable". He also stated: "The shutdown did not help our cause. What did help our cause was the president’s implementation of Obamacare, which has overwhelmed everything else. I don’t hear anyone thinking that another government shutdown is the way to achieve our goals."[55]

In 2005 Cornyn voted against including oil and gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. He voted against factoring global warming into federal project planning, and against banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also voted against removing oil and gas exploration subsidies.[46] During his tenure in the Senate, Cornyn has scored 0% on the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard, a system of ranking politicians according to their voting record on environmental legislation.[52]

Cornyn is a cosponsor of the Fair Tax Act of 2007.[51] John Cornyn also voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 but against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.

Cornyn voted to permanently repeal the Bush tax cuts permanent.[46] However, he stands opposed to extending the 2011 payroll tax holiday.[50]

Fiscal policy

On July 24, 2009, Cornyn announced his intention to vote against President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, citing his opinion that she might rule "from a liberal, activist perspective".[49]

Cornyn voted to confirm Samuel Alito as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and John Roberts for Chief Justice of the United States.[46] In September 2005, during the Supreme Court hearings for Roberts, Cornyn's staff passed out bingo cards to reporters. He asked them to stamp their card every time a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee used terms such as "far right" or "extremist".[48]

[47] He voted to ban

Social policy

In 2013 Cornyn said that, despite the sequester, the Pentagon would actually see its budget increase.[45]

In August 2012, following news reports that a Russian Akula-class nuclear-powered submarine operated in the Gulf of Mexico purportedly undetected for over a month, Cornyn demanded details of this deployment from Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations.[44]

Cornyn was one of only 22 Senators to vote against the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 that expands the educational benefits for soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.[43] Instead, he co-sponsored SB 2938, which gives benefits that are dependent on length of service.

Defense and homeland security

Cornyn sponsored a bill that would allow law enforcement to force anyone arrested or detained by federal authorities to provide samples of their DNA, which would be recorded in a central database.[42] He voted to recommend a constitutional ban on flag desecration and for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He also voted for the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act and extending its wiretap provision.

In the 2004 debate surrounding the Federal Marriage Amendment, Cornyn released an advance copy of a speech he was to give at the Heritage Foundation. In the speech, he wrote, "It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right... Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife". According to his office, he removed the reference to the box turtle in the actual speech,[39] but the Washington Post ran the quote, as did The Daily Show.[40][41]

Civil rights and law enforcement


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