Ramsey Clark, lawyer basic below President Lyndon B. Johnson, dies at 93


Ramsey Clark, the lawyer basic within the Johnson administration who turned an outspoken activist for unpopular causes and a harsh critic of U.S. coverage, has died. He was 93.

Clark, whose father, Tom Clark, was lawyer basic and U.S. Supreme Court justice, died Friday at his Manhattan dwelling, a member of the family, Sharon Welch, introduced to the media, together with the New York Times, the Washington Post.

After serving in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Cabinet in 1967 and ’68, Clark arrange a personal legislation observe in New York during which he championed civil rights, fought racism and the loss of life penalty, and represented declared foes of the United States together with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. He additionally defended former Iraqi chief Saddam Hussein.

New York civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby, who labored with Clark on quite a few circumstances, known as the loss of life “very, very sad in a season of losses.”

“The progressive legal community has lost its elder dean and statesman,” Kuby mentioned. “Over many generations, Ramsey Clark was a principled voice, conscience and a fighter for civil and human rights.”

In courtrooms across the nation, Clark defended antiwar activists. In the court docket of public opinion, he charged the United States with militarism and vanity, beginning with the Vietnam War and persevering with with conflicts in Grenada, Libya, Panama and the Gulf War.

When Clark visited Iraq after Operation Desert Storm and returned to accuse the United States of conflict crimes, Newsweek dubbed him the Jane Fonda of the Gulf War.

Clark mentioned he simply wished the United States to dwell as much as its beliefs. “If you don’t insist on your government obeying the law, then what right do you have to demand it of others?” he requested.

The lanky, soft-spoken Texan went to Washington in 1961 as a “New Frontiersman” in President John F. Kennedy’s Justice Department.

He was 39 when Johnson made him lawyer basic in 1967, the second youngest ever — Robert F. Kennedy had been 36.

Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, who had been President Truman’s lawyer basic earlier than he joined the excessive court docket in 1949, swore in his son as lawyer basic, then retired to keep away from the looks of battle of curiosity.

Ramsey Clark mentioned his work on the Justice Department drew him into the civil rights revolution, which he known as “the noblest quest of the American people in our time.”

He additionally maintained opposition to the loss of life penalty and wiretapping, defended the correct of dissent and criticized FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover when nobody else in authorities would dare take him on.

But as Johnson’s lawyer basic, Clark had the job of prosecuting Dr. Benjamin Spock for counseling Vietnam-era youths to withstand the draft, a place with which he sympathized.

“We won the case, that was the worst part,” he mentioned years later.

The Dallas-born Clark, who served within the Marine Corps in 1945-46, moved his household to New York in 1970 and arrange a professional bono-oriented observe. He mentioned then that he and his companions have been limiting their annual private incomes to $50,000, a determine he didn’t all the time obtain.

“Money’s not an interest of mine,” he mentioned, however on the identical time he was assembly steep medical payments for his daughter, Ronda, who was born with extreme disabilities. He and his spouse, Georgia, who have been married in 1949, additionally had a son, Thomas, a lawyer.

Clark took one shot at elective workplace, shedding the 1976 Democratic Senate main to Daniel P. Moynihan.

Clark’s shopper listing included such peace and disarmament activists because the Harrisburg Seven and the Plowshares Eight. Abroad, he represented dissidents in Iran, Chile, the Philippines and Taiwan, and skyjackers within the Soviet Union.

He was an advocate for Soviet and Syrian Jews however outraged many Jews over his different shoppers. He defended a Nazi jail camp guard preventing extradition, and the Palestine Liberation Organization in a lawsuit over the slaying of a cruise ship passenger by hijackers.

There have been normally two to a few dozen lively circumstances on Clark’s authorized calendar, and about 100 extra within the background. Capital punishment circumstances have been a staple.

“We talk about civil liberties,” he mentioned. “We have the largest prison population per capita on Earth. The world’s greatest jailer is the freest country on Earth?”

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