Janet Reno, the first female Attorney General, died on Monday in her home in Florida at the age of 78. Reno’s sister Margaret Hurchalla said that the cause of death was complications from Parkinson’s disease, which Reno was diagnosed with over twenty years ago.
Reno was attorney general during the Clinton administration. She held the position for Clinton’s entire presidency, which a previous attorney general hadn’t done for 150 years.
Reno was born in 1938 and grew up near the Everglades. She attended Cornell University and Harvard Law School.
Her accomplishments as attorney general included prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing, an anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft, and a lawsuit against the tobacco industry.
She allowed investigations of the Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which meant she wasn’t super close with President Clinton, despite being in his cabinet. Reno was criticized for handing the investigations over to independent counsel too quickly.
She was vocally pro-choice, opposed the death penalty, and favored the use of independent counsel to investigate the administration.
Durint Reno’s tenure, she was responsible for a raid on a religious cult in Waco, Texas, which left approximately 75 people dead. The incident led to intense scrutiny, but she took responsibility. She later faced criticism again when she rejected the suggestion of a special prosecutor to investigate claims that the Clinton administration had violated campaign fundraising law in 1996, insisting that special counsel was unnecessary. When a young Cuban boy was found off the coast of Florida, Reno faced another tough decision. She ultimately decided to send him home to his father, a decision that many people were unhappy with, including Republicans in Congress and Cuban American immigrants.
After her tenure as attorney general, Reno ran for governor of Florida.
This woman is definitely someone for all of us to look up to—she had an amazing life full of doing good work for others.