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Joshua David Hawley (born December 31, 1979) is an American attorney and Republican politician, currently serving as the junior United States Senator for Missouri. Hawley served as the 42nd Attorney General of Missouri from 2017 to 2019, before defeating two-term Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill in the 2018 election. He is currently the youngest member of the U.S. Senate at 39.

Josh Hawley
Josh Hawley, official portrait, 116th congress.jpg
United States Senator
from Missouri
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Serving with Roy Blunt
Preceded byClaire McCaskill
42nd Missouri Attorney General
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 39)
Springdale, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Erin Morrow
EducationStanford University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
WebsiteSenate website

Early life, education and early careerEdit

Hawley was born in Springdale, Arkansas, but soon moved to Lexington, Missouri, where his father worked as a banker and his mother a teacher.[1][2] He graduated from Rockhurst High 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.[1] Hawley then attended Yale Law School, where he led the school's chapter of the Federalist Society[3] and received a Juris Doctor degree in 2006.[4]

At age 28, Hawley wrote a biography of Theodore Roosevelt for Yale University Press entitled Theodore Roosevelt: Preacher of Righteousness.[3]

Following law school, Hawley clerked for Judge Michael W. McConnell of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit,[1] and later served as a law clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts. During this year, Hawley met his future wife, fellow Supreme Court clerk Erin Morrow.[3][5]

After Hawley's clerkships, he began working as an appellate litigator at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C (then called Hogan & Hartson) in 2008.[1] From 2011 to 2015, he worked for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; he worked for them full-time at their Washington, D.C. offices before moving to Missouri.[6] With Becket, he wrote briefs and gave legal advice in the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC Supreme Court case that was decided in 2012 and in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case which was decided in 2014.[7][8] 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.[1][9]

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).[10]

In May 2015, Hawley was admitted to the Supreme Court bar and became eligible to argue cases before the Court.[7][8]

Attorney General of Missouri (2017–2019)Edit

2016 electionEdit

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.[11] He faced Teresa Hensley in the general election on November 8. Hawley won 58.5% of the vote to Hensley's 41.5%.[11]

Affordable Care ActEdit

In February 2018, Hawley joined 20 other Republican-led states in a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).[12] The lawsuit could eliminate insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions.[13] 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.[13] In December 2018, a federal district court judge in Texas ruled that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.[14][15]

Catholic clergy investigationEdit

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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18][16]

Greitens scandalsEdit

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.[19] Hawley initially declined to prosecute, citing a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that the attorney general can't simultaneously represent a state officer and take legal action against that officer. However, on December 20, 2017, he announced his office would investigate, saying that his clients are "first and foremost the citizens of the state".[20][21][22] Hawley said text messages between government employees, whether made on private or government-issued phones, should be treated the same as emails — there must be a determination made as to whether the text is a record, and if so, if it is subject to disclosure.[20] Hawley's investigation found that no laws had been broken.[23] 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.[23]

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.[24][25] In April, after a special investigative committee of the Missouri House of Representatives released a report on the allegations, Hawley called for Greitens to resign immediately.[26] 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 had used the information to raise funds for his 2016 campaign for governor.[27]

Afterwards, Hawley announced an investigation based on the new felony charges.[28][29] On April 30, Hawley 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' behalf.[30] That same month, Greitens asked a judge to issue a restraining order blocking Hawley from investigating him.[31]

On May 29, 2018, Greitens announced that he would resign effective June 1, 2018; Hawley issued a statement approving of the decision.[32]

Investigations into tech companiesEdit

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.[33][34]

In April 2018, following the Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal, Hawley announced that his office had issued a subpoena to Facebook related to how the company shares their users' data. The investigation sought to find whether Facebook properly handles its users' sensitive data, as well as if Facebook collects more data on its users than it publicly admits.[35]

Opioid manufacturer lawsuit and investigationEdit

In June 2017, Hawley announced that the State of Missouri had filed a lawsuit 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 alleges that the companies violated Missouri consumer protection and Medicaid laws.[36][37] The damages sought were among the largest in state history, on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.[36]

In August 2017, Hawley announced that he had opened an investigation into seven opioid distributors (Allergan, Depomed, Insys, Mallinckrodt, Mylan, Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals).[38] 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.[39]

Rape kit auditEdit

On October 29, 2017, the Columbia Missourian published an exposé describing a huge backlog of untested rape kits in the state of Missouri, and the long-ignored efforts of rape survivors and law enforcement agencies to have the state address the backlog.[40]

On November 29, 2017, Hawley announced a statewide audit of the number of untested rape kits.[41] The results were made public in May 2018; there were 5,000 such kits.[41] 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.[40]


Eric Schmitt was appointed by Governor Mike Parson to succeed Hawley as Attorney General after he left office to become a member of the U.S. Senate.[42]

U.S. SenateEdit

2018 Senate campaignEdit

Hawley on election night after securing the Republican primary win

In August 2017, Hawley filed notification papers that he had formed an exploratory campaign committee for the U.S. Senate.[43][44] In October 2017, Hawley officially declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in Missouri's 2018 U.S. Senate election for the seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.[45][46]

The tightly contested Republican primary had 11 runners hoping to unseat Claire McCaskill. Hawley received substantial support from prominent Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Donald Trump, and the Senate Conservatives Fund.[47] Hawley won a large majority of the votes in the primary election.

Hawley was endorsed by President Donald Trump in November 2017.[48] During the general election campaign, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the subject of protections for preexisting conditions was a key issue, with both candidates pledging to ensure protections for preexisting conditions.[49][50][51] Hawley's participation in a lawsuit which could end insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions by overturning the Affordable Care Act was criticized by McCaskill.[13]

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 criticism, stating that a Senate run was not on his mind during the Attorney General campaign.[3]

In the November 2018 general election, Hawley defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill by a margin of 52% to 46%.[52]

On December 6, 2018, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft launched an inquiry into whether Hawley misappropriated public funds to support his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Hawley's office denied any wrongdoing.[53] On February 28, 2019, Ashcroft closed the investigation because there was insufficient evidence that "an offense has been committed."[54]


Hawley was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on January 3, 2019. As of January 7, 2019, he is the youngest member of the U.S. Senate at age 39.[55]

Committee assignmentsEdit

For the 116th United States Congress, Hawley was named to five Senate committees.[56] They are:

Political viewsEdit

Foreign policyEdit

In January 2019, Hawley was one of eleven Republican senators to vote to advance legislation aimed at blocking President Trump's intended lifting of sanctions against three Russian companies.[57]

In October 2019, Hawley sponsored the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Before the Bill went to the House of Representatives, Hawley visited Hong Kong to see the situation of protests first hand. He later commented on Twitter that Beijing was trying to turn Hong Kong into a "police state". In response, Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong said the comment was "irresponsible".[58]

Gun policyEdit

Hawley received a 93% rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) for 2018 and an 86% rating for 2016.[59] 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 any type of guns.[60] Hawley, like Matt Rosendale (in Montana's 2018 race) and Richard Burr, used National Media as a media consultant – the same firm as used by the NRA.[61]

Health careEdit

Hawley has criticized the Affordable Care Act. As Attorney General, Hawley joined a lawsuit with 20 other states in seeking to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional.[62][63] Hawley said the Affordable Care Act "was never constitutional",[62] and spoke proudly of his involvement in the lawsuit.[13] While running for the Senate in 2018, the Hawley campaign said that he supported protections for individuals with preexisting conditions, but did not elaborate on how such protections would be kept in place were the lawsuit to succeed.[13]

Human traffickingEdit

Hawley stated 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 receiving criticism for these statements, Hawley said that the Hollywood culture was a major cause of human trafficking.[64][65]


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.[3]

Social issuesEdit

Hawley opposes abortion and has called for the appointment of "constitutionalist, pro-life judges" to the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts.[66] Hawley has referred to Roe v. Wade as "one of the most unjust decisions" in American judicial history. He was endorsed by Missouri's Right to Life PAC in his 2018 U.S. Senate race.[66]

Hawley believes that the appropriate place for sex is "within marriage".[67] In December 2015, he supported exemptions for Missouri 'businesses and religions groups from participating in same-sex ... marriage ceremonies'.[68]

Social mediaEdit

In August 2019, Hawley introduced the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology, or SMART, ACT, which would ban features, such as infinite scrolling and auto-play, that Hawley says are encouraging internet addiction.[69]


Hawley supported Trump's imposition of trade tariffs.[3] Hawley hopes that the tariffs will be temporary, eventually resulting in lower tariffs on US agriculture than before the trade battles.[3] 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."[70]

Tax returnsEdit

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 tax returns. McCaskill released her tax returns, which she files separately from her husband's. When asked if Hawley thought that President Trump should release his tax returns, Hawley did not say.[71]

U.S. Supreme Court nominationsEdit

Hawley's first commercial in the 2018 Senate campaign focused on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, which he supported.[72] After Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, Hawley staunchly defended Kavanaugh and said that Democrats had staged an "ambush" on him.[72]

Electoral historyEdit

Republican primary results[73]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Josh Hawley 415,702 64.2
Republican Kurt Schaefer 231,657 35.8
Total votes 647,359 100.0
Missouri Attorney General election, 2016[74]
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
Republican primary results, Missouri 2018[75]
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%
United States Senate election in Missouri, 2018[76]
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

Personal lifeEdit

Hawley is married to Erin Morrow Hawley, an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri.[77] The Hawley family moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 2011. After becoming Attorney General of Missouri, Hawley also rented an apartment in Jefferson City following complaints that he was not abiding by a statutory residency requirement. The Hawleys and their two sons moved to Virginia after Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate.[78]


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Selected publicationsEdit

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

External linksEdit