Monday, November 27, 2017

RIP U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson (1923-2017)


Harry Pregerson (1923–2017) passed away this weekend.  He was a senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Pregerson was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter and assumed senior status on December 11, 2015. He previously had been appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson.

He was a graduate of UCLA (1947), and the UC Berkeley School of Law (1950). Judge Pregerson also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as First Lieutenant in World War II and was severely wounded in the Battle of Okinawa.

The Los Angeles Times story by Maura Dolan on Judge Pregerson's death stated that he "was one of the most liberal federal appeals court judges in the nation. . . . Dubbed a `thug for the Lord' by one attorney, Pregerson was relentless in his efforts away from the bench to help the poor in Los Angeles. . . . He worked to establish several homeless shelters and volunteered at one each Thanksgiving."

"My conscience is a product of the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, the Boy Scout Oath and the Marine Corps Hymn," Judge Pregerson said during his Senate confirmation hearing. "If I had to follow my conscience or the law, I would follow my conscience."

A public square, a freeway interchange and a child-care center in L.A. bear Pregerson's name.

In response to a lawsuit when he was a lower court judge, Pregerson prevented construction of the 105 Freeway until construction jobs were set aside for women and minorities and a training program was in place to give them the needed skills.  The settlement he helped write also ensured that affordable housing was built for residents displaced by the project.

Harry Pregerson's immigration decisions were memorable and he often sided with the immigrants and keeping families together.  See here, here.  As I summarized when Judge Pregerson assumed senior status, he

"has earned a reputation as a champion of immigrants.  He has fairly regularly criticized (and here, here) the `cruelty' of the immigration laws.  Just this past summer, Judge Pregerson made the news for comments in oral argument in a case in which the state of Arizona defended the state’s refusal to issue driver's licenses to recipients of relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Pregerson asked why Arizona continued to try to deny licenses to the DACA recipients. “Does it come down to racism? Does it come down to discrimination against these people? What else does it come down to?” he asked."

RIP Harry Pregerson.


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