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John Cornyn
John Cornyn.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
United States Senator
from Texas
Assumed office
December 2, 2002
Serving with Ted Cruz
Preceded by Phil Gramm
Ranking Member of the Senate Narcotics Caucus
In office
January 20, 2021 – January 3, 2023
Preceded by Dianne Feinstein
Succeeded by Chuck Grassley
Chair of the Senate Narcotics Caucus
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 20, 2021
Preceded by Chuck Grassley
Succeeded by Sheldon Whitehouse
Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2019
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by Dick Durbin
Succeeded by John Thune
Senate Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by Jon Kyl
Succeeded by Dick Durbin
Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by John Ensign
Succeeded by Jerry Moran
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
Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
In office
January 2, 1991 – October 18, 1997
Preceded by Franklin Spears
Succeeded by Deborah Hankinson
Judge of the Texas 37th Judicial District Court
In office
January 1, 1985 – January 1, 1991
Preceded by Richard Woods
Succeeded by Ann-Marie Aaron
Personal details
John Cornyn III

(1952-02-02) February 2, 1952 (age 72)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Sandy Hansen
(m. 1979)
Children 2
Education Trinity University (BA)
St. Mary's University, Texas (JD)
University of Virginia (LLM)

John Cornyn III (/ˈkɔːrnɪn/ CORN-in; born February 2, 1952) is an American politician and attorney serving as the senior United States senator for Texas, a seat he has held since 2002. He was the Republican Senate majority whip for the 114th and 115th Congresses. Cornyn also previously served as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2009 to 2013.

Early life, education and legal career

Cornyn was born in Houston, the second child of Atholene Gale Cornyn (née Danley) and John Cornyn II, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He attended the American School in Japan after his family moved to Tokyo in 1968, and graduated from it in 1969. In 1973, he graduated from Trinity University, where he majored in journalism and was a member of Chi Delta Tau. Cornyn earned a Juris Doctor from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1977 and an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. He was named the St. Mary's Distinguished Law School Graduate in 1994 and a Trinity University Distinguished Alumnus in 2001.

In 1988, Cornyn attended a two-week seminar at Oxford University jointly hosted by the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada, Reno and Florida State University Law School. The seminar, held on the Oxford campus, was not academically affiliated with the university.

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

Texas attorney general

In 1998, Cornyn ran for Texas attorney general. In the March Republican primary, Railroad Commissioner Barry Williamson received 38% of the vote and Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, 32%. In the April runoff election, Cornyn defeated Williamson, 58% to 42%. Cornyn won the general election with 54% of the vote; he defeated Jim Mattox, a former Texas attorney general (1983–1991) and U.S. Representative. Cornyn was the first Republican-elected attorney general of Texas since Reconstruction, and was sworn in by Governor George W. Bush.

John Cornyn in 1997

Cornyn created the Texas Internet Bureau to investigate illegal internet practices. He fought government waste and corruption by investigating fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

In 2005, Cornyn was mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist.

United States Senate

John Cornyn 113th Congress
Cornyn during the 113th Congress
John Cornyn by Gage Skidmore
John Cornyn speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

Cornyn was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002. He was reelected in 2008, 2014, and 2020.

In 2004, Cornyn co-founded and became the co-chairman of the U.S. Senate India Caucus. In December 2006, he was selected by his colleagues to join the five-person Republican Senate leadership team as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

President of the United States Donald J. Trump, United States Senator for Texas John Cornyn, and United States Senator from Texas Ted Cruz, August 29, 2017 (36776448741)
President Donald Trump with senators Cornyn and Ted Cruz, August 29, 2017

Senate Majority Whip

Senator John Cornyn as U.S. Senate Majority Whip, after 2014 re-election

On November 14, 2012, Cornyn was elected Senate Minority Whip by his peers.

Cornyn was named Senate Majority Whip after the 2014 election, in which Republicans gained a Senate majority.

Political positions

Civil rights and law enforcement

Cornyn sponsored a bill to 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. 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.


Cornyn voted to permanently repeal the estate tax and raise the estate tax exemption to $5 million. He voted in favor of $350 billion in tax cuts over 11 years and supported making the George W. Bush tax cuts permanent. He opposed extending the 2011 payroll tax holiday. He voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 but against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.

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


Cornyn voted against a measure recognizing that climate change is manmade. He was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to Trump urging him to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. In May 2019, Cornyn said it was important that the United States take measures to combat climate change, but condemned the Green New Deal as proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In April 2020, he incorrectly stated that climate scientists' models of the effects of climate change do not use the "scientific method".

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. 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.

Health care

Cornyn opposes the Affordable Care Act. He voted against it in 2009, and played a leading role in the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. He voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Cornyn said that Senator Ted Cruz's 2013 efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act by threatening to default on the U.S. government's debt obligations were "unachievable", adding, "the shutdown did not help our cause. What did help our cause was the president's implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has overwhelmed everything else. I don't hear anyone thinking that another government shutdown is the way to achieve our goals." Cornyn joined other Republican leaders to block Cruz's procedural move to reject an increase in the debt ceiling.


In January 2014, Cornyn introduced the "Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act". The bill would provide interstate reciprocity for persons with concealed weapons permits. Cornyn described the bill: "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." He received an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association in 2003 and 2014; as of 2018 his NRA rating was "A+". Cornyn continued to support Concealed Carry Reciprocity as of 2018, with the Republican-held House of Representatives passing a bill in late 2017 with this language attached to gun control measures from the Senate's Fix NICS bill.

In 2017, Cornyn helped Democrats pass legislation designed to aid federal agencies in alerting, reporting and recording gun purchases by creating a universal cross-agency database.

In 2022, Cornyn opposed background check laws and those limiting the types of weapons that adults may purchase. He later became one of ten Republican senators to support a bipartisan agreement on gun control, which included a red flag provision, support for state crisis intervention orders, funding for school safety resources, stronger background checks for buyers under 21, and penalties for straw purchases.

Personal life

Cornyn and his wife, Sandy Hansen, have two daughters. Cornyn receives pensions from three separate state and local governments in addition to his Senate salary.

As of 2018, according to, Cornyn's net worth was more than $1.8 million.

See also

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