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Claire McCaskill, U.S. Senator 2007-2018, to deliver the Weil Lecture on American Citizenship

February 4, 2020 | Sophia Ramos

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities announces Claire McCaskill, U.S. Senator 20017-2018, will deliver the 2020 Weil Lecture on American Citizenship on Monday, March 23, 2020, at the Carolina Union Auditorium in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

McCaskill has spent her career as a prosecutor and elected official devoted to public service and earned a reputation in the U.S. Senate as a plain-spoken, independent, and effective champion for Missourians and all Americans.

Born and raised in the Show-Me state, McCaskill attended college and law school at the University of Missouri and began her career as an assistant prosecutor in Kansas City, specializing in prosecuting arsons and sex crimes. She was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives and made history when she became the first woman elected Jackson County prosecutor, where she launched one of the nation’s first drug courts and established a first-of-its-kind domestic violence unit. McCaskill continued raising the level of accountability in Missouri as the state’s Auditor and later took on her own party establishment, becoming the first person to ever defeat a sitting Missouri Governor in a primary election.

In 2006, she became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri – winning the seat once held by Harry Truman – and was resoundingly re-elected in 2012.

“At a moment in our history when conversations across difference and disagreement are all too rare, Claire McCaskill brings a wealth of experience at doing just that,” said IAH Director Andrew Perrin.

“A pioneer in the Senate and an accomplished bridge-builder, her visit to Carolina will be a great opportunity for the UNC community to learn about citizenship and democratic accountability.”

McCaskill’s background as a prosecutor and auditor deeply informed her work in the Senate, where she championed a six-year-long battle to rein in wasteful wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan and addressed tens of billions of wasted taxpayer dollars. She fought to curb sexual assault in the military and on college and university campuses, and led a historic, bipartisan investigation into online sex trafficking on the website Backpage and passed legislation to give law enforcement tools to prosecute websites like it.

McCaskill launched the largest congressional investigation into the business practices of opioid manufacturers and worked across the aisle to pass legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs. The daughter of a World War II veteran, she fought tirelessly for vets, including passing into law a bill to deliver decades-old relief to veterans who were exposed to mustard gas during World War II. Known for her work on behalf of consumers, McCaskill spearheaded efforts to improve consumer protections against robocalls, recalled vehicles, and sky-high cable bills. Always one to seek out the concerns of her constituents, she was known as the “town hall Senator,” after holding more than 50 town halls in one year in every corner of rural Missouri.

Today, McCaskill lives in St. Louis with her husband and their blended family of seven children and twelve grandchildren.

The lecture will be held at 5:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Tickets to the free event are available at

The Weil Lecture is a biennial series sponsored by the Weil Family since 1915. The first lecture was by former president William H. Taft after he finished his term but before he served on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Other notable lecturers include Jim Huntsman, Jimmy Carter and Eleanor Roosevelt. The 2017 lecturer was Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.

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