Celebrating Notable Latinxs in Law
Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) gives us a special time each year to pay tribute to the accomplishments and cultural richness of Hispanic and Latinx residents and the invaluable contributions they make daily to communities across the U.S.
There are several trailblazing Hispanic and Latinx lawyers who have made their mark on the legal world and changed our country for the better. Read below about a few who truly stand out:
Gustavo Garcia (1915-1964)
Gustavo “Gus” Garcia was a civil rights champion and part of the first Mexican-American legal team to win a case at the U.S. Supreme Court. Working with the League of United Latin American Citizens, Garcia and his team argued that their client, Pete Hernandez, had not received a fair trial in Texas because Mexican-Americans were excluded from jury service. Garcia’s win at the Supreme Court secured the right of Mexican-Americans to serve on juries and paved the way for legal challenges in other civil rights cases.
Mario Guerra Obledo (1932-2010)
With fellow lawyer Pete Tijerina, Mario Guerra Obledo co-founded the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the leading Latino legal civil rights organization in the United States. MALDEF has been an important legal force in fighting for school desegregation, equal accommodation, and immigrant rights, and it continues to educate and advocate for policies that protect Latino communities. Obledo would go on to become president of the League of United Latin American Citizens and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton who described him as having “created a powerful chorus for justice and equality.”
Sonia Sotomayor (1954-)
In 2009, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina and third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Born in the Bronx, Sotomayor excelled in school, becoming valedictorian of her high school class and graduating from Princeton and Yale Law School. After a distinguished career as a litigator, she was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District and then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. As a Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayor has been a powerful voice in standing up for minorities, immigrants, and affirmative action programs.
Catherine Cortez Masto (1964-)
Catherine Cortez Masto is a lawyer known for historic firsts. In addition to becoming the country’s first elected Latina U.S. Senator, Masto was also the first female Attorney General of Nevada. During her two terms as AG, Masto cracked down on illegal drug and sex trafficking, fought elder exploitation, and created the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to investigate and prosecute lending scams that contributed to the housing crisis. As a United States Senator, she serves as the Ranking Member of the Economic Policy Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and the important contributions from Hispanic and Latinx residents, visit www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov.
AG Racine works every day to support the District’s Hispanic and Latinx communities, including stopping scammers who prey on immigrants, fighting notario fraud and visa scams, ending family separation, protecting Dreamers, saving TPS, suing for answers on immigration crackdowns, and much more.