John Cornyn Biography

(United States Senator from Texas)

Birthday: February 2, 1952 (Aquarius)

Born In: Houston, Texas, United States

John Cornyn is an American politician and attorney who has been serving as the senior United States senator from Texas since 2002. After completing his law degree, he began private practice in San Antonio before serving as a judge on Texas's 37th District Court from 1985 to 1991. A member of the Republican Party, he was then elected an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, on which he served for seven years. He was elected Attorney General of Texas in 1998 and became the first Texas Attorney General in nearly 20 years to personally appear before the U.S. Supreme Court, that also on two occasions. He left after one term as he won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2002. He has since won reelection three times in 2008, 2014 and 2020. He served as the Senate majority whip for the 114th and 115th Congresses, and was chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2009 to 2013.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: John Cornyn III

Age: 72 Years, 72 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Sandy Cornyn (m. 1979)

father: John Cornyn II

mother: Atholene Gale Cornyn

Born Country: United States

Political Leaders American Men

Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males

Notable Alumni: Trinity University

U.S. State: Texas

More Facts

education: University of Virginia (LLM), Trinity University (BA), St. Mary's University, Texas (JD)

Childhood & Early Life

John Cornyn III was born on February 2, 1952, in Houston, Texas, United States as the second of three children of Atholene Gale Cornyn and John Cornyn II, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. His father, who was a B-17 pilot in World War II, was serving as an oral pathologist in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Tachikawa Air Force Base in Japan.

Being raised in a military family, he travelled a lot while growing up and has lived with his family in Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio, Texas; Biloxi, Mississippi; Kensington, Maryland; and Tokyo, Japan. After his family moved to Tokyo in 1968 due to his father’s job, he began attending the American School in Japan, from where he graduated the following year.

Upon returning to his home state Texas, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1973 from Trinity University in San Antonio, where he was a member of Chi Delta Tau fraternity. He subsequently obtained his Juris Doctor from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1977, and much later in 1995, received an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

In 1988, he attended a two-week seminar at Oxford University which was jointly hosted by the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada, Reno and Florida State University Law School. However, contrary to his claim during a later political campaign, he didn’t “graduate” from Oxford University law program, and the seminar, although held on the Oxford campus, was not academically affiliated with the university.

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After graduating from St. Mary's University School of Law, John Cornyn entered private practice in San Antonio, specializing in defending medical and legal malpractice cases. He was elected district judge of Bexar county in 1984 and continued to serve in that capacity for six years before being elected to the Texas Supreme Court as a Republican in 1990.

He was reelected for a second term in 1996, but resigned the following year in order to run for state attorney general in the 1998 election. He secured 32% votes against 38% votes of Railroad Commissioner Barry Williamson in the Republican primary in March and defeated Williamson by 58% to 42% votes in the runoff election in April.

In the general election, he defeated former Texas attorney general (1983–1991) and U.S. Representative Jim Mattox with 54% of the vote, becoming the first Republican-elected attorney general of Texas since Reconstruction. After being sworn in by Governor George W. Bush, he created the Texas Internet Bureau to investigate illegal internet practices and fought government waste and corruption by investigating fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

During his tenure, he was criticized by civil rights groups for failing to investigate in a timely manner the false drug convictions of numerous African Americans in Tulia, Texas. However, Cornyn had announced in 2002 that his office would investigate the 1999 drug bust, where the testimony of one narcotics agent led to the arrests of 46 people, 43 of whom were Black.

In 2002, when incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Phil Gramm decided to retire, Cornyn ran to fill the vacant seat and defeated his closest opponent, physician Bruce Rusty Lang, by ten-to-one margin in the five-way primary. He went on to defeat Democratic nominee Ron Kirk in the 2002 United States Senate election in a campaign that cost each candidate over $9 million.

He had an approval rating of 50% in October 2008 and was challenged by Christian activist Larry Kilgore of Mansfield in the Republican primary, but he easily defeated the latter gaining over 81% of the vote. While some polls predicted a competitive general election, he was able to secure 54.82% votes to defeat Democratic candidate and Texas Representative Rick Noriega and Libertarian Party's nominee Yvonne Adams Schick.

In the 2014 election, he won the Republican primary with 59% of the vote and won the reelection by defeating Democratic nominee David Alameel by over 20 points, while also outspending him by nearly 3-1. His closest Senate campaign was in 2020, when he won the primary with 76% of the vote and won reelection to a fourth term against Democratic nominee MJ Hegar by 9.6%.

He co-founded and became the co-chairman of the U.S. Senate India Caucus in 2004, and in December 2006, was selected to join the Republican Senate leadership team as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. He was severely criticized in 2005 for connecting the Supreme Court's reluctance to hear arguments for sustaining Terri Schiavo's life with murders of Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother or Judge Rowland Barnes’ courtroom murder.

He voted to confirm Samuel Alito as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and John Roberts for Chief Justice of the United States, while voting against President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

As National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, he strongly supported Norm Coleman's court challenges to the 2008 election certification and even threatened "World War III" against Democrats until Coleman conceded following a Minnesota Supreme Court rule.

He was elected Senate Minority Whip by his peers on November 14, 2012 and was named Senate Majority Whip after the Republicans gained a Senate majority following the 2014 election. While Cornyn stated in March 2016 that the Senate should not consider Obama's Supreme Court nominee before presidential election, he himself voted on Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court in September 2020, before presidential election.

Family & Personal Life

In 1977, 25 years old John Cornyn met his future wife, 28 years old Sandy Hansen, on a blind date and the two got married two years later in 1979. He has two grown daughters named Danley and Haley.

His wife is an active member of multiple groups and clubs and serves as Treasurer of the Spouses of the Senate Club.


According to a 2013 report, John Cornyn supplemented his Senate salary with three public pensions from his days as a Texas judge and elected official, which some fiscal watchdog groups flagged as “double dipping”. Apart from his $174,000 salary as a U.S. senator, he collected $65,383 in public retirement benefits in 2012 as a former district judge, Texas Supreme Court justice, and state attorney general.

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