Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Month: Alberto Gonzales

Alberto R. Gonzales (born August 4, 1955) was the 80th United States Attorney General, appointed in February 2005 by President George W. Bush, becoming the highest-ranking Hispanic in executive government to date. He was the first Hispanic to serve as White House Counsel, and earlier he had been Bush's General Counsel during his governorship of Texas. Gonzales had also served as Secretary of State of Texas and then as a Texas Supreme Court Justice.

Alberto Gonzales was born to a Catholic family in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Humble, a town outside of Houston. Of Mexican descent, he was the second of eight children born to Pablo and Maria Gonzales. His father, who died in 1982, was a migrant worker and then a construction worker with a second grade education. His mother worked at home raising eight children and had a sixth grade education. Gonzales and his family of ten lived in a small, two-bedroom home built by his father and uncles with no telephone and no hot running water. According to Gonzales, he is unaware whether immigration documentation exists for three of his grandparents who were born in Mexico and who, like Gonzales and his family, were poor and uneducated and thus may have entered and resided in the United States illegally from Mexico or they may have entered and resided legally.

An honors student at MacArthur High School in unincorporated Harris County, Gonzales enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1973, for a four-year term of enlistment. He served one year at a remote radar site with 100 other GIs at Fort Yukon, Alaska, located north of the Arctic Circle, before being released from active duty to attend the USAFA Prep School. Subsequently he received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Gonzales was on the Dean’s List every semester and served as President of the Freshman Class Council at the Academy. He was on the Superintendent’s List and Commandant’s List for two semesters. Prior to beginning his third year at the academy, which would have caused him to incur a further service obligation, he left the Academy and was released from the enlistment contract. He transferred to Rice University in Houston, where he was a resident of Lovett College, Gonzales had dreamed of attending Rice as a boy when he sold soft drinks at Rice University football games. He went on to be selected as the Charles Parkhill Scholar of Political Science and he earned a bachelor's degree with honors in political science in 1979. He then earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1982.

  Gonzales is currently the Dean of Belmont University College of Law, in Nashville, Tennessee where he currently teaches Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, National Security Law and First Amendment Law. He is also counsel at a Nashville-based law firm, Waller, where he advises clients on special matters, government investigations and regulatory matters. He often writes opinion pieces for national newspapers and appears on national news programs

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