At a Glance
- Career History: Senate Republican Conference Vice-Chair (since January 2007); Texas Attorney General (1999 to 2002); Justice on the Texas Supreme Court (1990 to 1997)
- Birthday: Feb. 2, 1952
- Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
- Alma Mater: Trinity University (Texas), B.A., 1973; St. Mary's Law School, J.D. 1977; University of Virginia, L.L.M., 1995
- Spouse: Sandy
- Religion: Church of Christ
- Committees: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry ; Budget ; Finance ; Judiciary ; Armed Services
- DC Office: 517 Hart Senate Office Building, 202-224-2934
- State/District Office: Houston, 713-572-3337; Harlingen, 956-423-0162; Lubbock, 806-472-7533; San Antonio, 210-224-7485; Austin, 512-469-6034; Tyler, 903-593-0902; Dallas, 972-239-1310
- Web site
Path to Power
Cornyn's father was an Air Force pilot who spent time in a German POW camp after being shot down. When he returned to the U.S., he became an Air Force dentist, and Cornyn moved around a lot as a kid - from El Paso, Texas, to Biloxi, Miss., to Washington, D.C., and finally to Tachikawa, Japan, where he finished high school. He returned to Texas for college, thinking he would become a doctor. But at Trinity, he found that he didn't have a passion for medicine and switched his major to journalism.
Cornyn switched jobs a couple more times out of college, finally deciding to adopt real estate rather than pursue an entry-level journalism job for little pay. When that didn't work out, he went to law school at St. Mary's in Texas. After law school, he met his future wife, Sandy, on a blind date and married her two years later. Working for the San Antonio law firm of Groce, Locke & Hebdon, Cornyn defended a slew of doctors and lawyers in malpractice suits, which shaped his judicial philosophy.
Cornyn was a strong supporter of his friend President Bush and is a fairly consistent Republican voice, voting with his party 90.8 percent of the time in the 110th Congress. A former justice and Texas attorney general, Cornyn is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on the Constitution and has taken a keen interest in legal and constitutional issues. He was the point person on proposed constitutional amendments to ban flag burning and same-sex marriage, and he has been known to give strong floor speeches attacking Democrats. He has been an advocate for lower taxes, supporting all of President Bush's tax cuts.
Consistently conservative, Cornyn wanted an immigration bill that was harsher on illegal immigrants than the one the George W. Bush proposed. He also broke with Bush by eventually criticizing his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, for his handling of the 2006 U.S. attorney firings, though he stopped short of calling for subpoenas of White House staff and e-mails. Cornyn, a proponent of a strong national defense, has consistently agreed with President Bush on the Iraq war, advocating for a troop surge in Iraq and opposing a measure to set a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal. He said Democrats are "advocating a policy of retreat."
Cornyn became close friends with President George W. Bush when he was attorney general of Texas and Bush was governor.
That friendship helped Cornyn get close to a lot of prominent Bush allies, such as Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers. His chief of staff, Beth Jafari, was Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Tex.) legislative director for six years before leaving to join the D.C. law firm of King and Spalding in 2000.