|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
|Assumed office |
January 3, 1979
|Preceded by||Bob Kasten|
9th district (1979–2003)|
5th district (2003–present)
|Chair of the House Judiciary Committee|
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Henry Hyde|
|Succeeded by||John Conyers|
|Chair of the House Science Committee|
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2001
|Preceded by||Bob Walker|
|Succeeded by||Sherwood Boehlert|
Francis James Sensenbrenner Jr.
June 14, 1943
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Cheryl Warren ( m. 1977)
Stanford University (
University of Wisconsin–Madison ( JD)
Francis James Sensenbrenner Jr. ( //; born June 14, 1943) is an American politician who has represented Wisconsin's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 1979. He is a Republican. Wisconsin's 5th district, the state's most Republican, includes many of Milwaukee's northern and western suburbs, and extends into rural Jefferson County. It was numbered as the 9th District until 2003.
He is the former chairman of the House Science Committee and the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; when the Republicans lost control of the House, he finished his six-year term as chairman, and was not chosen as the Judiciary Committee's ranking minority member (that honor went to Lamar S. Smith of Texas).  He served as the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming from 2007 to 2011, when Republicans abolished the committee after regaining control of the House. Sensenbrenner is the most senior member of the Wisconsin delegation, and the second most senior member in the House.
- 1 Early life, education, and early political career
- 2 Wisconsin legislature
3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 3.1 Elections
- 3.2 Impeachment of Bill Clinton
- 3.3 Security
- 3.4 Terri Schiavo case
- 3.5 Immigration
- 3.6 Human services
- 3.7 Intellectual property
- 3.8 Separation of powers
- 3.9 Animal rights
- 3.10 Foreign relations
- 3.11 Defense
- 3.12 Communications standards
- 3.13 Comment about Michelle Obama
- 3.14 Rankings
- 3.15 Committee assignments
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Electoral history
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Sensenbrenner was born in Chicago, Illinois. His great-grandfather invented the Kotex sanitary napkin and served as the second president of Kimberly-Clark.  Sensenbrenner was raised in Shorewood, Wisconsin, and attended the private Milwaukee Country Day School, from which he graduated in 1961. He matriculated at Stanford University, graduating with a B.A. in political science in 1965. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1968. Sensenbrenner served as staff assistant to California U.S. Congressman J. Arthur Younger and Wisconsin State Senator Jerris Leonard. 
Sensenbrenner was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1968, the same year he graduated from law school. He served in the State Assembly until 1975, and in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1975 to early 1979. 
When 9th District Congressman Bob Kasten vacated his seat to run for governor in 1978, Sensenbrenner ran in the election to succeed him, defeating his primary opponent, Susan Engeleiter, by 589 votes with a plurality of 43%.   He defeated Democratic lawyer Matt Flynn in November 1978 with 61%,  and has been reelected 16 more times with no substantive opposition, sometimes running unopposed. His district was renumbered as the 5th after the 2000 census, when Wisconsin lost a district. He has never won re-election with less than 62% of the vote. In fact, his worst two re-elections were in 2004, when he defeated UW-Milwaukee professor Bryan Kennedy with 67% of the vote,  and in 2006 defeated him in a rematch with 62%. 
In the 2016 election, he defeated Democratic nominee Khary Pennebaker. 
Sensenbrenner introduced the USA PATRIOT Act to the House on October 23, 2001. Although the primary author was Assistant Attorney General of the United States Viet Dinh,[ citation needed] Sensenbrenner has been recognized as "one of the architects of the Patriot Act".  In November 2004, Sensenbrenner and California Congressman Duncan Hunter objected to provisions of a bill that created a Director of National Intelligence, a key recommendation of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission. In 2006, the NRA successfully lobbied Sensenbrenner to add a provision to the Patriot Act re-authorization that requires Senate confirmation of ATF director nominees. 
In 2005, Sensenbrenner authored the Real ID Act, which requires scrutiny of citizenship before issuing drivers' licenses to make it more difficult for terrorists and criminals to alter their identities by counterfeiting documents. He attached the controversial act as a rider on military spending bill HR418, which was passed by the Senate without debate. 
On June 17, 2005, Sensenbrenner, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, ended a meeting where Republicans and Democrats were debating the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act and walked out in response to Democratic members discussing human rights violations at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp and the ongoing Iraq War. He ordered the court reporter to halt transcription of the proceedings and C-SPAN to shut off its cameras. Sensenbrenner defended his actions by stating that the Democrats and witnesses had violated House rules in discussing issues unrelated to the subject of the meeting.  Democrats have claimed that his walkout was contrary to House parliamentary procedure, which is to adjourn either on motion or without objection. 
The Bureau's broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act. I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American. 
Sensenbrenner supported the Amash–Conyers Amendment, a plan to defund the NSA's telephone surveillance program. "Never, he said, did he intend to allow the wholesale vacuuming up of domestic phone records, nor did his legislation envision that data dragnets would go beyond specific targets of terrorism investigations." The Amendment fell seven votes short of the number it needed to pass.  
In October 2013, he introduced the USA Freedom Act in the House, a bill designed to curtail the powers of the NSA and end the NSA's dragnet phone data collection program. The bill is supported by civil liberties advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union. 
Sensenbrenner was the main sponsor of H.R. 4437, a bill passed by the House in 2005 that would provide additional criminal penalties for aiding and abetting illegal immigration to the United States.  Sensenbrenner, in spite of unanimous Congressional support,  attempted to delay a bill  in December 2010 that would have been benefited Hotaru Ferschke, the Japanese-born widow of a United States Marine killed in combat. Congressman John Duncan was able to use "a loophole" to get the bill passed in spite of Sensenbrenner's objections. By adding language in the Senate indicating the bill would not impact the federal budget Sensenbrenner could no longer block the bill by himself according to House rules. The measure was passed unanimously. 
On September 8, 2005, Sensenbrenner voted against a bill to provide $50 billion in emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.  The bill passed and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
On December 16, 2005, Sensenbrenner introduced the Digital Transition Content Security Act. He helped lead the effort to pass the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006, which was supported by large copyright holders and opposed by fair use activists. 
In 2006, Sensenbrenner expressed outrage at the FBI raid of the congressional office of Democratic Representative William J. Jefferson, asserting constitutional concerns over separation of powers. He held Judiciary Committee hearings in May 2006 on this issue.[ citation needed]. One year before, on May 9, 2005, he suggested the creation of an "inspector general" on the federal Judiciary. 
In fall 2006, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act unanimously passed the Senate, but Sensenbrenner used his position to block final House consideration of the legislation, even though the bill had 324 co-sponsors. The act creates felony-level penalties for animal fighting activities.[ citation needed]
Sensenbrenner was the only Republican to join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Congressional delegation to meet the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India during the March 2008 protests against China by Tibetans.  While there he said, "In the US Congress, there is no division between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of protecting Tibetan culture and eliminating repression against Tibetans around the world." 
Following the death of Nelson Mandela, Sensenbrenner objected to the executive proclamation by President Barack Obama to lower the flags to half-staff to honor Mandela. He stated it was his belief that the American flag should only be flown at half-staff for Americans. 
In 2009, Sensenbrenner authored the Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 2009. 
Sensenbrenner believes in criminal prosecution of broadcasters and cable operators who violate decency standards, in contrast to the FCC regulatory methods.  In July 2012, Sensenbrenner advocated amending the Espionage Act of 1917 to enable the prosecution of journalists involved in publishing leaks of state secrets. 
In December 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sensenbrenner referred to First Lady Michelle Obama's "big butt" while talking to church members at a Christmas bazaar at St. Aidan's church in Hartford.  Church member Ann Marsh-Meigs told the newspaper that she heard Sensenbrenner's remarks. She said the congressman was speaking about the first lady's efforts to combat childhood obesity, and added, "And look at her big butt." On December 22, Sensenbrenner's press secretary said Sensenbrenner had sent Obama a personal note and released a statement saying he regretted his "inappropriate comment". Sensenbrenner's office would not release the text of the note. 
Sensenbrenner was named the 2006 "Man of the Year" by the conservative publication Human Events because of his opposition to open-borders immigration policies.  In contrast, in the same year he was rated the second-worst member of the House by Rolling Stone, which dubbed him "the dictator".  Also in 2006, the NRA lobbied Sensenbrenner to add a provision to the Patriot Act re-authorization that requires Senate confirmation of ATF director nominees. 
- Committee on the Judiciary
- United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Caucus memberships
- Congressional Coalition on Adoption
- Congressional Grace Caucus
- United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus 
- Friends of Norway Caucus
- Friends of Finland Caucus
In 1977, Sensenbrenner married Cheryl Warren, daughter of former state attorney general and U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Warren. The couple have two sons, Frank (born 1981), and Bob (born 1984). Frank worked as a lobbyist for the Canadian embassy in Washington D.C. starting in 2007, although he didn't register with the U.S. as an agent for a foreign government.  He is currently a Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, his research focusing on Eurozone financial markets, and has blogged for the Huffington Post on Italian politics and the Vatican.  
When not in Washington D.C., Sensenbrenner resides in Menomonee Falls.
Sensenbrenner has a net worth of about $11.6 million.  His net worth in 2010 was $9.9 million.  He is an heir to the Kimberly-Clark family fortune,  but no longer owns any Kimberly-Clark stock.  His great-grandfather, Frank J. Sensenbrenner, invented Kotex napkins and served as Kimberly-Clark's second president and CEO, but the congressman has never served on the board or been directly involved with the company.  He has put his money into stocks, as detailed in the Congressional Record.  Sensenbrenner has also won lottery prizes three times, the largest, $250,000, in 1998.  
Other notable ancestors of Sensenbrenner's include maternal great-great-grandfather John C. Pritzlaff, founder of Milwaukee-based John Pritzlaff Hardware Company, and paternal great-grandfather James C. Kerwin, a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His ancestry includes German, Irish, and Alsatian. 
|Year||Republican||Votes||%||Democratic||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||Votes||%|
|1978||Jim Sensenbrenner||118,386||61%||Matthew Flynn||75,207||39%|
|1980||Jim Sensenbrenner||206,227||78%||Gary Benedict||56,838||22%|
|1982||Jim Sensenbrenner||115,503||100%||No candidate|
|1984||Jim Sensenbrenner||180,247||73%||John Krause||64,157||26%||Stephen Hauser||Constitution||1,306||1%|
|1986||Jim Sensenbrenner||138,766||78%||Thomas Popp||38,636||21%|
|1988||Jim Sensenbrenner||185,093||75%||Thomas Hickey||62,003||25%|
|1990||Jim Sensenbrenner||117,967||76%||David Morrill||36,946||24%|
|1992||Jim Sensenbrenner||192,898||70%||Ingrid Buxton||77,362||28%||David Marlow||Independent||4,619||2%||Jeffrey Millikin||Libertarian||1,881||1%|
|1994||Jim Sensenbrenner||141,617||100%||No candidate|
|1996||Jim Sensenbrenner||197,910||74%||Floyd Brenholt||67,740||25%|
|1998||Jim Sensenbrenner||175,533||91%||No candidate||Jeffrey Gonyo||Independent||16,419||9%|
|2000||Jim Sensenbrenner||239,498||74%||Mike Clawson||83,720||26%|
|Year||Republican||Votes||%||Democratic||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||Votes||%|
|2002||Jim Sensenbrenner||191,224||86%||No candidate||Robert Raymond||Independent||29,567||13%|
|2004||Jim Sensenbrenner||271,153||67%||Bryan Kennedy||129,384||32%||Tim Peterson||Libertarian||6,549||2%|
|2006||Jim Sensenbrenner||194,669||62%||Bryan Kennedy||112,451||36%||Bob Levis||Green||4,432||1%||Robert Raymond||Independent||3,525||1%|
|2008||Jim Sensenbrenner||275,271||80%||No candidate||Robert Raymond||Independent||69,715||20%|
|2010||Jim Sensenbrenner||229,642||69%||Todd Kolosso||90,634||27%||Robert Raymond||Independent||10,813||3%|
|2012||Jim Sensenbrenner||250,335||68%||Dave Heaster||118,478||32%|
|2014||Jim Sensenbrenner||231,160||69%||Chris Rockwood||101,190||30%|
|2016||Jim Sensenbrenner||260,706||67%||Khary Penebaker||114,477||29%||John Arndt||Libertarian||15,324||4%|
- Committee Membership - Committee on the Judiciary Archived 24 January 2007.
- Marrero, Diana (June 15, 2010). "Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Kimberly-Clark heir, sheds last shares of company stock". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- "F. James Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Historical Society". wisconsinhistory.org. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1977,' Biographical Sketch of James Sensenbrenner, pg. 28
- "WI District 9 – R Primary Race – Sep 12, 1978". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- Goldman, T.R., "The Man With The Iron Gavel", Legal Times May 2, 2005
- "WI District 9 Race – Nov 07, 1978". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "WI – District 05 Race – Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "WI – District 05 Race – Nov 07, 2006". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- Jennifer Granick and Christopher Sprigman, " The Criminal N.S.A.", The New York Times, June 27, 2013.
- Horwitz, Sari (2013-07-31). "Senate confirms ATF director". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
- Barrett, Ted. CNN "House, Senate agree on $82 billion war spending bill".
- United States House Committee on the Judiciary press release "Sensenbrenner Floor Statement Regarding Question of Personal Privilege" Archived 2006-05-01 at the Wayback Machine., June 16, 2005
- Gregory, Leland (2009). Idiots in Charge: Lies, Trick, Misdeeds, and Other Political Untruthiness. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 265. ISBN 0740792083.
- Sink, Justin (June 6, 2013). "Patriot Act author 'extremely troubled' by NSA phone tracking". The Hill.
- "President Obama's Dragnet". 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "Author of Patriot Act: FBI's FISA Order is Abuse of Patriot Act". 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "Sensenbrenner sees lawsuits stemming from surveillance". 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "This abuse of the Patriot Act must end". 9 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Weisman, Jonathan (28 July 2013). "Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance". New York Times International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Sensenbrenner (25 July 2013). "Sensenbrenner supports the Amash Amendment". YouTube. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "NSA faces sweeping surveillance review as intelligence chiefs face hostile house". TheGuardian.Com. 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- "H.R. 4437: Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005", GovTrack.us
- Michael Collins. "Congress moves to revise law to help ET Marine's widow". KNS. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- Michael Collins. "Ferschke bill halted again". KNS. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- Michael Collins. "House unanimously OKs residency for widow of Maryville Marine". KNS. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "H.R. 3673: Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs... (Vote On Passage)", GovTrack.us
- McCullagh, Declan. "Congress readies broad new digital copyright bill" CNET News.com, April 23, 2006
- Buonomo, Giampiero (2005). "Scontro politica-giustizia modello Usa: tutte le spine della Corte suprema nel mirino dei parlamentari". Diritto&Giustizia edizione online. – via Questia (subscription required)
- "News Archive". TheHill. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- Pelosi urges world to condemn China
- Bice, Daniel. "Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner objects to lowering flags for Nelson Mandela". Journal Sentinel, Inc. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-445[ dead link]
- Boliek, Brooks. "Sensenbrenner to cable execs: Indecency is criminal act" The Hollywood Reporter, April 5, 2005.
- "House may prosecute journalists for reporting leaked information". The Christian Science Monitor. July 11, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
- Bice, Daniel. "Sensenbrenner apologizes to first lady over "big butt" remark". No Quarter Blog. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel Online. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
- "Jim Sensenbrenner sorry for 'big butt' quip – Mackenzie Weinger". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "Representative Sensenbrenner – Interest Group Ratings" Archived 2006-06-15 at the Wayback Machine., vote-smart.org
- Man of the Year: Jim Sensenbrenner – HUMAN EVENTS
- "Jsonline.com". jsonline.com. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Tim Harper, Lobbyist in Obama controversy not trusted, Toronto Star, May 28, 2008
- HUFFPOST HILL – Alternate Universe America Marks 10th Anniversary Of President Gore's War On CO2, Huffington Post, March 19, 2013
- Frank Sensenbrenner, Visiting Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
- AP, Millionaire U.S. Rep. Wins Lottery Again[ dead link]
- Marrero, Diana (15 June 2010). "Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Kimberly-Clark heir, sheds last shares of company stock: For the first time, Menomonee Falls Republican owns no stock in the company". Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- Besnainou, David, and Sarah Parnass. "Top 5 Political Heirs". ABC News. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- "National News Briefs; Wisconsin Congressman Wins Big Lottery Prize" New York Times, December 31, 1997
- "sensenbrenner". ancestry.com. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Rep. Sensenbrenner says he has prostate cancer", AP, August 31, 2009
- "Anti-immigrant Congressman converts to Catholicism". Religion News Service. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2007-07-25.
- "Election Results". Federal Election Commission.
- "2012 PRESIDENTIAL AND GENERAL ELECTION" (PDF). Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
- "2014 Fall General Election Results". Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
- "2016 Fall General Election Results" (PDF). Wisconsin Elections Commission. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- Sensenbrenner's opening statement at the Clinton impeachment trial January 14, 1999
- The Worst Congress Ever Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, November 2, 2006
- The 10 Worst Members of the Worst Congress Ever Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, January 12, 2012
- Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. official U.S. House site
- Jim Sensenbrenner for Congress
- Jim Sensenbrenner at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 9th congressional district
Robert S. Walker
| Chair of the
House Science Committee
| Chair of the
House Judiciary Committee
| Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 5th congressional district
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
United States Representatives by seniority