Josh Hawley

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Josh Hawley
Josh Hawley.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
United States Senator
from Missouri
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Serving with Roy Blunt
Preceded byClaire McCaskill
42nd Attorney General of Missouri
In office
January 9, 2017 – January 3, 2019
GovernorEric Greitens
Mike Parson
Preceded byChris Koster
Succeeded byEric Schmitt
Personal details
Joshua David Hawley

(1979-12-31) December 31, 1979 (age 40)
Springdale, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Erin Morrow
EducationStanford University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
WebsiteSenate website

Joshua David Hawley (born December 31, 1979) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the junior U.S. Senator from Missouri. A member of the Republican Party, Hawley served as the 42nd Missouri Attorney General from 2017 to 2019, before defeating two-term Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill in the 2018 election. At 40, he is the youngest current U.S. senator.[1]

Early life, education and early career[edit]

Hawley was born in Springdale, Arkansas, but soon moved to Lexington, Missouri, where his father worked as a banker and his mother a teacher.[2][3] He graduated from Rockhurst High School, a private boys' preparatory school in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Stanford University in 2002, graduating with highest honors. He moved to London and taught at St Paul's School for a year,[2] then attended Yale Law School, where he led the school's chapter of the Federalist Society[4] and received a Juris Doctor degree in 2006.[5]

At age 28, Hawley wrote a biography of Theodore Roosevelt for Yale University Press, Theodore Roosevelt: Preacher of Righteousness.[4]

After law school, Hawley clerked for Judge Michael W. McConnell of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit[2] and Chief Justice John Roberts. While clerking for Roberts, Hawley met his future wife, fellow Supreme Court clerk Erin Morrow.[4][6]

After Hawley's clerkships, he worked as an appellate litigator at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C (then called Hogan & Hartson) from 2008 to 2011.[2] From 2011 to 2015, he worked for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty at their Washington, D.C. offices before moving to Missouri.[7] At Becket, he wrote briefs and gave legal advice in the Supreme Court cases Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, decided in 2012, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, decided in 2014.[8][9] In 2011, Hawley moved to Missouri and became an associate professor at the University of Missouri Law School, where he taught constitutional law, constitutional theory, legislation, and torts.[2][10]

In June 2013, Hawley served as a faculty member of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, which is funded by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization.[11]

In May 2015, Hawley was admitted to the Supreme Court bar and became eligible to argue cases before the Court.[8][9]

Attorney General of Missouri (2017–2019)[edit]

2016 election[edit]

In 2016, Hawley ran for Attorney General of Missouri. On August 2, he defeated Kurt Schaefer in the Republican primary with 64% of the vote.[12] He defeated Teresa Hensley in the general election on November 8 with 58.5% of the vote to Hensley's 41.5%.[12]

Affordable Care Act[edit]

In February 2018, Hawley joined 20 other Republican-led states in a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[13] The lawsuit could eliminate insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions.[14] In September 2018, amid criticism from Hawley's U.S. Senate opponent Claire McCaskill about the lawsuit's impact on pre-existing conditions, Hawley's office did not clarify his role in the case.[14] In December 2018, a federal district court judge in Texas ruled that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.[15][16]

Catholic clergy investigation[edit]

In August 2018, after reports of over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clerics were detailed in a report released by a grand jury in Pennsylvania, as well as protests by survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Saint Louis, Hawley announced that he would begin an investigation into potential cases of abuse in Missouri.[17] Missouri was one of several states to launch such investigations in the wake of the Pennsylvania report; the attorneys general in Illinois, Nebraska, and New Mexico began similar inquiries.[18] Hawley promised that he would investigate any crimes, publish a report for the public, and refer potential cases to local law enforcement officials. Robert James Carlson, the archbishop of Saint Louis, pledged cooperation with the inquiry.[19][17]

The investigation, which was inherited by Hawley's successor, Eric Schmitt, charged 12 former priests with sexual abuse of minors in September 2019.[20]

Greitens scandals[edit]

In December 2017, Missouri's Republican Governor Eric Greitens and senior members of his staff were accused by Democrats and government transparency advocates of subverting Missouri's open records laws after the Kansas City Star reported that they used Confide, a messaging app that erases texts after they have been read, on their personal phones.[21] Hawley initially declined to prosecute, citing a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that the attorney general cannot simultaneously represent a state officer and take legal action against that officer. But on December 20, 2017, he announced his office would investigate, saying that his clients are "first and foremost the citizens of the state".[22][23][24] Hawley said text messages between government employees, whether made on private or government-issued phones, should be treated the same as emails: a determination must be made as to whether the text is a record, and if so, whether it is subject to disclosure.[22] Hawley's investigation found that no laws had been broken.[25] In March 2018, six attorneys formerly employed by the State of Missouri under Democrats released a letter describing the investigation as "half-hearted"; Hawley's spokesperson called the letter a partisan attack.[25]

When allegations emerged in January 2018 that Greitens had blackmailed a woman with whom he was having an affair, Hawley's office said it did not have jurisdiction to look into the matter, and Kimberly Gardner, the circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis opened an investigation into the allegations.[26][27] In April, after a special investigative committee of the Missouri House of Representatives released a report on the allegations, Hawley called on Greitens to resign immediately.[28] The next week, Gardner filed a second felony charge against Greitens, alleging that his campaign had taken donor and email lists from a veterans' charity Greitens founded in 2007 and used the information to raise funds for his 2016 campaign for governor.[29]

Hawley announced an investigation based on the new felony charges.[30][31] On April 30, he announced that his office had launched an investigation into possible violations of the state's Sunshine laws following allegations that a state employee had managed a social media account on Greitens's behalf.[32] The same month, Greitens asked a judge to issue a restraining order blocking Hawley from investigating him.[33]

On May 29, 2018, Greitens announced that he would resign effective June 1, 2018; Hawley issued a statement approving of the decision.[34]

Investigations into tech companies[edit]

In November 2017, Hawley opened an investigation into whether Google's business practices violated state consumer protection and anti-trust laws. The investigation was focused on what data Google collects from users of its services, how it uses content providers' content, and whether its search engine results are biased.[35][36]

In April 2018, after the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Hawley announced that his office had issued a subpoena to Facebook related to how the company shares its users' data. The investigation sought to find whether Facebook properly handles its users' sensitive data or collects more data than it publicly admits.[37]

Opioid manufacturer lawsuit and investigation[edit]

Hawley at Jackson Egg Farm

In June 2017, Hawley announced that the State of Missouri had filed suit in state court against three major drug companies, Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, for hiding the danger of prescription painkillers and contributing to the opioid epidemic. The state alleged that the companies violated Missouri consumer protection and Medicaid laws.[38][39] The damages sought were among the largest in state history, on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.[38]

In August 2017, Hawley announced that he had opened an investigation into seven opioid distributors (Allergan, Depomed, Insys, Mallinckrodt, Mylan, Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals).[40] In October 2017, Hawley expanded his investigation into three additional pharmaceutical companies (AmerisouthBergen Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corporation), the three largest U.S. opioid distributors.[41]

Rape kit audit[edit]

On October 29, 2017, the Columbia Missourian published an exposé describing a huge backlog of untested rape kits in Missouri and the long-ignored efforts of rape survivors and law enforcement agencies to have the state address the backlog.[42]

On November 29, 2017, Hawley announced a statewide audit of the number of untested rape kits.[43] The results were made public in May 2018; there were 5,000 such kits.[43] In August 2018, One Nation, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit connected to Karl Rove, ran commercials giving Hawley instead of the Columbia Missourian credit for identifying the problem.[42]

U.S. Senate[edit]

2018 Senate campaign[edit]

Hawley on election night after securing the Republican primary win

In August 2017, Hawley formed an exploratory campaign committee for the U.S. Senate.[44][45] In October 2017, he declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in Missouri's 2018 U.S. Senate election for the seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.[46][47]

The tightly contested Republican primary had 11 candidates hoping to unseat McCaskill. Hawley received substantial support from prominent Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Donald Trump, and the Senate Conservatives Fund.[48] He won a large majority of the vote in the primary election.

Trump endorsed Hawley in November 2017.[49] During the general election campaign, Obamacare was a key issue, with both candidates pledging to ensure protections for preexisting conditions.[50][51][52] McCaskill criticized Hawley's participation in a lawsuit that could end insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions by overturning the Affordable Care Act.[14] Hawley made McCaskill's upcoming vote on the confirmation of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State a campaign issue.[53] His campaign spokesperson asked, "Will Senator McCaskill ignore her liberal donors and support Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, or will she stick with Chuck Schumer and continue to obstruct the president?", adding, "It is deeply troubling how focused Senator McCaskill is on doing what’s politically convenient instead of doing what’s right."[53]

Hawley met criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for initiating his Senate campaign less than a year after being sworn in as attorney general. A New York Times story noted that his attorney general campaign had featured messages of disdain for "ladder-climbing politicians." Hawley dismissed this, saying that the Senate was not on his mind during the attorney general campaign.[4]

In the November 2018 general election, Hawley defeated McCaskill, 52% to 46%.[54]

On December 6, 2018, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft launched an inquiry into whether Hawley misappropriated public funds for his Senate campaign. Hawley's office denied any wrongdoing.[55] On February 28, 2019, Ashcroft closed the investigation because there was insufficient evidence that "an offense has been committed."[56]


Hawley was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on January 3, 2019. He is the youngest U.S. Senator.[57]

On November 18, 2019, Hawley announced the National Security and Personal Data Protection Act,[58] which would make it illegal for American companies to store user data or encryption keys in China. Engadget noted the bill might cause "serious problems" for companies that are legally obligated to store data in China, such as Apple and TikTok, and "might force them to leave China altogether." It was not Hawley's first technology-related bill; he had also introduced proposals to ban loot boxes in gaming and to restrict social network features "deemed addictive", among others.[59] Hawley focused on TikTok, saying the bill would cover Russia as well as China, and "any other country the State Department deems a security risk."[60] He said the bill was "targeted at social media platforms and data-intensive businesses", and "would block such mergers by default without pre-approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States."[61] The bill also prevents the collection of "more user data than is necessary to conduct business."[62]

Committee assignments[edit]

For the 116th United States Congress, Hawley was named to five Senate committees.[63] They are:

Political positions[edit]


Hawley opposes abortion and has called for the appointment of "constitutionalist, pro-life judges" to the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts.[64] He has called Roe v. Wade "one of the most unjust decisions" in American judicial history. Missouri's Right to Life PAC endorsed Hawley for Senate.[64] In July 2020, Hawley said he would not support any Supreme Court nominee who did not explicitly say that they would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.[65]

Foreign policy[edit]

In January 2019, Hawley was one of 11 Republican senators to vote to advance legislation aimed at blocking Trump's intended lifting of sanctions on three Russian companies.[66]

In October 2019, Hawley sponsored the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Before the bill went to the House of Representatives, he visited Hong Kong to see the protests. He commented on Twitter that Beijing was trying to turn Hong Kong into a "police state". Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam called the comment "irresponsible".[67] On November 19, 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the act.[68]

Gun policy[edit]

Hawley received a 93% rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) for 2018 and an 86% rating for 2016.[69] He does not support an assault weapons ban, but does support some gun-control measures, including strengthening background checks, banning bump stocks, and banning mentally ill people from having guns.[70] Like Matt Rosendale in Montana's 2018 Senate race and Richard Burr, Hawley used National Media as a media consultant, the same firm the NRA uses.[71]

Health care[edit]

Hawley has criticized the Affordable Care Act. As attorney general, he joined a lawsuit with 20 other states in seeking to have it declared unconstitutional.[72][73] Hawley said the act "was never constitutional",[72] and spoke proudly of his involvement in the lawsuit.[14] While running for the Senate in 2018, the Hawley campaign said that he supported protections for individuals with preexisting conditions.[14] He later published an op-ed in the Springfield News-Leader explaining that he supports protecting those with preexisting conditions by creating a taxpayer subsidy to reimburse insurance companies for covering these high cost patients.[74]

Human trafficking[edit]

Hawley has said that human trafficking is the result of the American sexual revolution in the 1960s due to the social encouragement of premarital sex and the use of contraception. After being criticized for these statements, he said that Hollywood culture was a major cause of human trafficking.[75][76] Hawley believes that the appropriate place for sex is "within marriage".[77]


Hawley supported Trump's separation of children from their parents who cross the border illegally, saying it was a matter of upholding law and order.[4]

LGBT rights[edit]

In December 2015, Hawley supported exemptions for Missouri "businesses and religions groups from participating in same-sex ... marriage ceremonies".[78]

In June 2020, after the Supreme Court ruled that federal law prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Hawley harshly criticized the decision, saying it "represents the end of the conservative legal movement".[79][80]

Social media[edit]

In August 2019, Hawley introduced the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act, which would ban features, such as infinite scrolling and auto-play, that Hawley says encourage internet addiction.[81]

Trade and tariffs[edit]

Hawley supported Trump's imposition of trade tariffs,[4] saying he hoped the tariffs will be temporary, eventually resulting in lower tariffs on US agriculture than before the trade battles.[4] In September 2018, Hawley fully supported Trump's trade actions, saying, "It's a trade war that China started. If we're in a war, I want to be winning it."[82]

On May 5, 2020, Hawley wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for the abolition of the World Trade Organization, arguing it did not serve American interests and "enabled the rise of China."[83][84] Shortly afterward, he introduced a resolution to withdraw the U.S. from the WTO.[85]

Tax returns[edit]

During his 2018 campaign, Hawley released his and his wife's tax returns and called on his opponent, Claire McCaskill, to release her and her husband's returns. McCaskill released her returns, which she files separately from her husband's. When asked if he thought Trump should release his returns, Hawley did not say.[86]

Trump impeachment[edit]

Hawley voted to acquit Trump during his Senate impeachment trial.[87] Hawley accused Democrats of having abused the Constitution by starting an impeachment inquiry into Trump, declaring that it was "the first purely partisan impeachment in our history".[87] The day after the Republican-held Senate acquitted him on his impeachment charges, Trump praised Hawley as having played a key role in his acquittal.[87]

U.S. Supreme Court nominations[edit]

Hawley's first commercial in the 2018 Senate campaign focused on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, which he supported.[88] After Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, Hawley staunchly defended him and said that Democrats had staged an "ambush".[88]

Supreme Court shortlist[edit]

In September 2020, Trump announced that Hawley, Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton were on his shortlist for nominations to the Supreme Court, should a vacancy occur. Hawley expressed his appreciation but declined the offer, saying, "Missourians elected me to fight for them in the Senate".[89]

Personal life[edit]

Hawley is married to Erin Morrow Hawley, an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri.[90] They have two sons. The Hawleys moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 2011. After becoming attorney general of Missouri, Hawley began to rent an apartment in Jefferson City following complaints that he was not abiding by a statutory residency requirement. The Hawleys moved to Virginia after Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate.[91] Hawley was raised Methodist, but he and his family now attend an Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and he identifies as an Evangelical.[6]

Electoral history[edit]

2016 Missouri Attorney General election (Republican primary)[92]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Josh Hawley 415,702 64.2
Republican Kurt Schaefer 231,657 35.8
Total votes 647,359 100.0
2016 Missouri Attorney General election[93]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Josh Hawley 1,607,550 58.50% +17.71%
Democratic Teresa Hensley 1,140,252 41.50% -14.31%
Total votes 2,747,802 100.0% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic
2018 United States Senate election in Missouri (Republican primary)[94]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Josh Hawley 389,878 58.64%
Republican Tony Monetti 64,834 9.75%
Republican Austin Petersen 54,916 8.26%
Republican Kristi Nichols 49,640 7.47%
Republican Christina Smith 35,024 5.27%
Republican Ken Patterson 19,579 2.95%
Republican Peter Pfeifer 16,594 2.50%
Republican Courtland Sykes 13,870 2.09%
Republican Fred Ryman 8,781 1.32%
Republican Brian Hagg 6,871 1.03%
Republican Bradley Krembs 4,902 0.74%
Total votes 664,889 100%
2018 United States Senate election in Missouri[95]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Josh Hawley 1,254,927 51.38% +12.27%
Democratic Claire McCaskill (incumbent) 1,112,935 45.57% -9.24%
Independent Craig O'Dear 34,398 1.41% N/A
Libertarian Japheth Campbell 27,316 1.12% -4.95%
Green Jo Crain 12,706 0.52% N/A
Write-in 7 <0.01% N/A
Total votes 2,442,289 100% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic


  • Hawley, Joshua David (2008). Theodore Roosevelt, Preacher of Righteousness. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300120103.


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  95. ^ "All Results State of Missouri - State of Missouri - General Election, November 06, 2018".

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ed Martin
Republican nominee for Attorney General of Missouri
Most recent
Preceded by
Todd Akin
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Missouri
(Class 1)

Legal offices
Preceded by
Chris Koster
Attorney General of Missouri
Succeeded by
Eric Schmitt
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Claire McCaskill
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Missouri
Served alongside: Roy Blunt
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Tom Cotton
Baby of the Senate
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Braun
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Rick Scott