[Posted April 5, 2018] One of the nation’s most noteworthy judges, Stephen Reinhardt, Class of 1948, died on March 29 of a heart attack. He was 87.
Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas said, “We have lost a wonderful colleague and friend. As a judge, he was deeply principled, fiercely passionate about the law and fearless in his decisions.”
A member of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals since 1980, when he was nominated by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Reinhardt was known as the “liberal lion” of the Court; the Above the Law blog noted that:
“Whether you loved or loathed his jurisprudence, Judge Reinhardt’s importance and influence cannot be denied. His unapologetic liberalism won him admirers on the left, who viewed him as a jurist of courage and principle rarely seen since the Warren Court, and critics from the right, who branded him a liberal judicial activist of the highest order. When conservatives criticized the Ninth Circuit, they were often talking about Reinhardt. …
“Judge Reinhardt’s major rulings included opinions striking down the constitutionality of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, state laws prohibiting physician-assisted suicide, and California’s ban on same-sex marriage in Proposition 8. These and many other decisions, especially rulings in the death-penalty and habeas-corpus areas, wound up getting reversed or vacated by the Supreme Court, making Reinhardt one of the most-reversed judges before SCOTUS. But he was untroubled; as he memorably quipped, ‘They can’t catch ’em all.’”
According to his obituary in the Los Angeles Times, “Reinhardt is survived by his wife, Ramona Ripston, who for decades headed the ACLU of Southern California; three adult children, Mark Reinhardt, 57, a professor of political science at Williams College; Justin Reinhardt, 52, a musician; and Dana Reinhardt, 47, a novelist; and seven grandchildren.”