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Federal judge and civil rights figure Oberdorfer dies at 94

Posted Feb 25, 2013 9:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Former U.S. District Judge Louis Oberdorfer, one of the founders of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has died on his 94th birthday.

Oberdorfer died at his home in McLean, Va., on Thursday, report the Washington Post and the Associated Press. He was appointed to the federal court in Washington, D.C., in 1977 and wrote more than 1,300 opinions before his retirement in 2009.

Among Oberdorfer's notable opinions was a 1990 ruling holding that the Ku Klux Klan had a First Amendment right to march in Washington, D.C. In another, he fined Operation Rescue in 1993 for blocking abortion clinic entrances. He also ignored mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine before Congress eased the penalty.

Oberdorfer oversaw the Justice Department’s tax division under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1965 and helped found the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in 1963.

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