Janet Reno was a trailblazer. She broke what once had seemed to be a never-to-be-shattered glass ceiling, when President Bill Clinton made her the first woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States. She was straightforward, no-nonsense, resolute and determined to, as she often said, “do the right thing.”
In the 1970s, Reno served as state attorney general for Dade County, Florida, where she focused on an issue that at the time was not receiving much attention—domestic violence. She found that 40 percent of the homicides over a 20-year period were related to domestic violence, and she opened Florida’s first domestic violence unit. As U.S. Attorney General, she was responsible for implementing and enforcing the Violence Against Women Act when it first took effect. She made sure that the full force of the federal government was behind VAWA from day one.
Reno was enthusiastically supported by Florida NOW when she ran for governor in 2002. Although she didn’t win that election, she inspired women to get engaged and stay engaged in the political process. We will miss her deeply — and we carry her memory forward in the ongoing struggle for equality for all women.
When Janet Reno was nominated to be Attorney General, just a few weeks after the death of her mother, she said, “My mother always told me to do my best, to think my best and to do right.” Janet Reno always did.