The experience of Mexican Americans
in the United States has been marked by oppression at the hands of the legal system—but it has also benefited from successful appeals to the same system. Mexican Americans and the Law illustrates how Mexican Americans have played crucial roles in mounting legal challenges regarding issues that directly affect their political, educational, and socioeconomic status.
Each chapter highlights historical contexts, relevant laws, and policy concerns for a specific issue and features abridged versions of significant state and federal cases involving Mexican Americans. Beginning with People v. Zammora (1940), the trial that was a precursor to the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles during World War II, the authors lead students through some of the most important and precedent-setting cases in American law:
- Educational equality: from segregation concerns in Méndez v. Westminster (1946) to unequal funding in San Antonio Independent School District vs. Rodríguez (1973)
- Gender issues: reproductive rights in Madrigal v. Quilligan (1981), workplace discrimination in EEOC v. Hacienda Hotel (1989), sexual violence in Aguirre-Cervantes v. INS (2001)
- Language rights: Ýñiguez v. Arizonans for Official English (1995), García v. Gloor (1980), Serna v. Portales Municipal Schools (1974)
- Immigration-: search and seizure questions in U.S. v. Brignoni-Ponce (1975) and U.S. v. Martínez-Fuerte (1976); public benefits issues in Plyler v. Doe (1982) and League of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson (1997)
- Voting rights: redistricting in White v. Regester (1973) and Bush v. Vera (1996)
- Affirmative action: Hopwood v. State of Texas (1996) and Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson (1997)
- Criminal justice issues: equal protection in Hernández v. Texas (1954); jury service in Hernández v. New York (1991); self incrimination in Miranda v. Arizona (1966); access to legal counsel in Escobedo v. Illinois (1964)
With coverage as timely as the 2003 Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, Mexican Americans and the Law offers invaluable insight into legal issues that have impacted Mexican Americans, other Latinos, other racial minorities, and all Americans. Discussion questions, suggested readings, and Internet sources help students better comprehend the intricacies of law.