Lawyer, and former U.S. attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales made history in 2005 as the first Hispanic appointed U.S. attorney general.
Alberto R. Gonzales was born on August 4, 1955, in San Antonio, Texas. The son of a construction worker, Gonzales rose to one of the top positions in the U.S. government—the U.S. attorney general. He grew up in Houston and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973 after graduating high school. Following a few years of service, Gonzales attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. Leaving the military, he went to Rice University and received his B.A in 1979. Continuing to strive academically and professionally, Gonzales went on to study at Harvard Law School where he earned his degree in 1982.
In 1995, he became the general counsel of Governor George W. Bush, serving in that capacity until 1997. Governor Bush appointed him to the position of Secretary of State from December 1997 to January 1999. Additionally, Gonzales was a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas from January 1999 to December 2000. After Bush became president, he appointed Gonzales as White House counsel in 2001. Gonzales was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni Hall of Fame in 2003. Also in 2003, he was honored with the Good Neighbor Award from the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and received the President’s awards from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the League of United Latin American Citizens. Gonzales made history as the first Hispanic appointed U.S. attorney general. He was sworn in on February 3, 2005.
Unfortunately, not long after his tenure began, Gonzales started to face scrutiny regarding some of his actions, most notably the firing of several U.S. attorneys and his defense of Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program. Questions about possible political motivations for the removals prompted an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general. Ultimately, the investigation revealed that nine US attorneys were removed in 2006. The inspector general concluded that the process of removal was “fundamentally flawed.” Democrats began calling for his resignation and for more investigations, but President Bush defended his appointee.
After a few months of controversy, Gonzales decided to step down. On August 27, he gave a brief statement announcing his resignation, stating that “It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice.” He gave no explanation for his departure. President Bush also released a statement, which said, in part, “It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person… is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.”
His resignation was effective as of September 17, 2007. In his resignation letter, he said that “…this is the right time for my family and I to begin a new chapter in our lives.” He and his wife Rebecca have three sons.
In 2009 Gonzales began working as a visiting professor at Texas Tech University, in the political science department. He also helped the university develop a leadership development program for minority students. A few years later Gonzales started teaching full time at Belmont University’s College of Law in Nashville. Gonzales became Dean of the law school in 2014 and presently holds the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law.
For his many accomplishments and years of public service, Judge Gonzales has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Rice University and received the Harvard Law School Association Award, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency’s Director’s Award and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. His work in the Hispanic community and his achievements as a role model have also earned him recognition as Hispanic American of the Year by HISPANIC Magazine and one of The 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America by TIME Magazine.
Read more at biography.com/people/alberto-r-gonzales-13633556