|U.S. Senator from South Carolina|
From: January 7, 2003 – Present
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
|U.S. Representative from South Carolina's 3rd District|
From: January 4, 1995 – January 3, 2003
|Successor||J. Gresham Barrett|
A native South Carolinian, Graham grew up in Central, graduated from D.W. Daniel High School, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Graham logged six-and-a-half years of service on active duty as an Air Force lawyer. From 1984-1988, he was assigned overseas and served at Rhein Mein Air Force Base in Germany. Upon leaving the active duty Air Force in 1989, Graham joined the South Carolina Air National Guard where he served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. During the first Gulf War, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as Staff Judge Advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region. His duties included briefing pilots on the law of armed conflict, preparing legal documents for deploying troops, and providing legal services for family members of the South Carolina Air National Guard. He received a commendation medal for his service at McEntire.
Since 1995, Graham has continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is the only U.S. Senator currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School.
Graham served in Iraq as a reservist on active duty for short periods during April and two weeks in August 2007, where he worked on detainee and rule-of-law issues. That makes him the only Iraq war veteran serving in the United States Senate.
In 1988, Graham went into private law practice and in 1992 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1994, he became the first Republican to represent South Carolina's Third Congressional District in Washington since 1877. He quickly became powerful as a member of the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton in 1998. Graham opposed some articles, but vigorously supported others. In January and February of 1999, after two impeachment articles had been passed by the full House, he was one of the managers who brought the House's case to Clinton’s trial in the Senate. Though the Senate did not convict Clinton, Graham became nationally known. Lindsey Graham was elected to the Senate in 2002, winning 54% of the vote.
During the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, Graham sparked controversy. He asked Alito, "Are you really a closet bigot?" Alito answered "I'm not any kind of a bigot, I'm not." and Graham continued his statement by expressing his opinion that Alito definitely was not a bigot. Alito's wife cried and left the hearing briefly.
Graham has been an adamant supporter of "comprehensive immigration reform" and of S. 2611, the McCain-Kennedy Bill of 2006 as well as the equally hotly debated S. 1348 of 2007, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. Despite Graham's support the bill failed on a key Senate vote on June 28, 2007 and is unlikely to be revived. Graham's views on immigration has lead criticisms for conservatives. Popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has referred to him as Senator "Grahamnesty."