Moments after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor administered the oath that made Alberto R. Gonzales the Nation’s 80th Attorney General, President George W. Bush explained why he had chosen Judge Gonzales to lead the Department of Justice, “Al has been a model of courage and character to his fellow citizens,” the President said. “I’ve witnessed his integrity, his decency, his deep dedication to the cause of justice. Now he will advance that cause as the Attorney General and ensure that more Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
Judge Gonzales was with the President on September 11, 2001 as he began to formulate the nation’s response to the terrorist attacks against the United States. As Attorney General, Judge Gonzales maintained the Department’s focus on its top priorities, especially preventing acts of terrorism and reducing the threats of gangs, drugs, and violent crime. During his tenure, Judge Gonzales made the protection of children from sexual predators a top priority. His leadership on behalf of children has been widely noted; Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, described Attorney General Gonzales’ example in raising this issue to prominence as “a clear profile in courage.”
Judge Gonzales was born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Houston. He graduated from Texas public schools and then enlisted in the United States Air Force. After serving his country, Judge Gonzales received a nomination to the United States Air Force Academy. He attended the Academy for two years before graduating from Rice University and Harvard Law School.
After winning a statewide election in 2000 to remain on the Texas Supreme Court, Judge Gonzales resigned from the bench to accept a commission as Counsel to the President of the United States. Judge Gonzales served as White House Counsel for four years prior to his confirmation as Attorney General at the age of 49.
Among his many professional associations, Judge Gonzales has served as a member of the American Law Institute, board director of the State Bar of Texas, and president of the Houston Hispanic Bar Association. The State Bar of Texas awarded a Presidential Citation to Judge Gonzales for his work in addressing the legal needs of the indigent; and the National Hispanic Bar Association honored him as the Latino Lawyer of the Year. Early in his professional career, the Texas Young Lawyers Association selected Judge Gonzales as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas.
Judge Gonzales has also been active in a wide range of community organizations, including serving as a board director of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Houston. He presided as president of Leadership Houston and of the Houston Hispanic Forum.
For his many years of public service, the Association of Rice Alumni honored Judge Gonzales as a Distinguished Alumnus of Rice University. He also received the Harvard Law School Association Award from the Harvard Law School Association. Among his numerous other service awards, he was selected as one of Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce.
As a son of former migrant workers, many recognize Judge Gonzales’ appointment as Attorney General of the United States as the embodiment of the American dream. His work in the Hispanic community and his achievements as a role model have 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.