Hollings was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Citadel in 1942. Following his graduation, he served as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, Hollings earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1947.
Hollings' political career began when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1948. He later served as the state's lieutenant governor (1954-1958) and governor (1959-1963). Hollings was elected to the United States Senate following the 1965 death of Senator Olin Johnston, where he served until retiring in 2005..
Hollings criticized the Bush Administration over the Iraq war in 2004 when he said:
|“||"Israel long since would have taken us to the weapons of mass destruction if there were any or if they had been removed. With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country? The answer: President Bush's policy to secure Israel.||”|
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith responded to Sen. Hollings remarks publicly by stating,
|“||"when the debate veers into anti-Jewish stereotyping, it is tantamount to scapegoating and an appeal to ethnic hatred...Regardless of whether one feels that America's war on Iraq was justified, the charge that it is being fought by the U.S. on behalf of Israel grossly misrepresents the legitimate U.S. interests that are involved in the debate." ||”|
- Bush's failed Mideast policy is creating more terrorism, U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings, Charleston Post and Courier, 6 May 2004.
- Anti-Semitism: USA, ADL Urges Senator Hollings to Disavow Statements on Jews and the Iraq War, ADL Press Release, New York, 14 May 2004.