Home / General / Stephen Reinhardt

Stephen Reinhardt

/
/
/
2533 Views

A true giant of American jurisprudence has died. Some thoughts from Mark Joseph Stern:

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who served on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, died on Thursday at the age of 87, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reports. President Jimmy Carter appointed Reinhardt in 1980; from the start, he championed the legacy of Chief Justice Earl Warren and the civil rights revolution his court oversaw. Reinhardt remained a liberal lion for nearly 40 years, unapologetically defending LGBTQ equality, abortion access, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, and free expression while opposing capital punishment, mass incarceration, and police brutality. He may have been the most liberal judge in America.

Reinhardt emphatically rejected originalism, the theory that the Constitution’s meaning was fixed at the time of its ratification. Instead, he applied the Constitution’s broad principles of liberty and equality to bring justice to those whom society despised or disregarded. Though Reinhardt had an unabashedly bleeding heart, he was also a cynic and a pragmatist. Brilliant yet unpretentious, idealistic yet hard-bitten, he was adored by his clerks and colleagues, including some with whom he sparred regularly.

The classic Reinhardt opinions involve political and jurisprudential lightning rods. He ruled that terminally ill patients have a constitutional right to end their own lives, though the Supreme Court disagreed. He insisted, in dissent, that the insertion of the phrase “under God” into the pledge of allegiance violated the separation of church and state. He held that a federal ban on a common second trimester abortion procedure unduly infringed on women’s right to choose. (Once again, the Supreme Court reversed his decision.) And he ruled that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to bear arms six years before the Supreme Court concluded that it did.

Obviously, many of Reinhardt’s watershed decisions fared poorly on appeal. His conservative critics frequently cite this fact as evidence that he was, essentially, a renegade judge. But Reinhardt always followed binding precedent and statutory commands; he simply tried to push the law to the left when he could.

R.I.P.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar
Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views :