There are some issues that people with opposing views may never agree on, particularly when one group has significantly more power than the other. But sometimes when an issue is brought to authority figures’ attention, they can be convinced to do the right thing, says Cruz Reynoso.
A California lawyer and former justice of the Supreme Court of California, Reynoso built his career representing farmworkers with California Rural Legal Assistance. He had a personal connection to the work, having been raised in a family of agricultural laborers.
“Realize that sometimes those in authority haven’t done the right thing simply because the issue has not been brought to them,” says Reynoso, now an emeritus law professor at the University of California, Davis. “When brought to them properly, very often public officials will respond affirmatively.”
Reynoso’s career includes saving CRLA from almost $2 million in federal budget cuts. He became the first Latino justice on the Supreme Court of California in 1982, but was voted off the bench in a 1986 election that targeted him and two other justices for their perceived liberal records.
He went on to be a special counsel at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler, and vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2000, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton.
This is an episode of a special series of the ABA Journal’s Asked and Answered podcast, titled Asked and Answered: Lived and Learned.