On March 16, Cornell Law School hosted a tribute to Justice Cruz Reynoso, the first Latino justice on the California Supreme Court. Following an introduction by Gerald Torres, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Justice Reynoso described his passion for social justice, not just legal justice. He said his "fairness bone" gave him a social conscience to improve things for the better even when he was 10 years old. He improved the postal system and advocated to end Mexican segregation from school dances—all before he went to law school.
Cruz Reynoso has been a trailblazer in advocating on behalf of farmworkers, advancing the human rights and human dignity of the rural poor, civil rights, and the administration of justice. During his career, he has been a civil rights lawyer, professor of law, and an associate justice of the California Supreme Court (1982–1987). He also served on the California Third District Court of Appeal. He served as vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004. In 2000, Reynoso received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, for his efforts to address social inequities and for his public service.