A prominent figure in Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Department of Justice has died.
According to The Hill, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who served as attorney general under Johnson, died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.
A controversial lawyer
According to a report from the Associated Press, Clark left the Justice Department in 1968 to practice law privately, and made a name for himself by championing unpopular causes and fighting for people who he viewed as downtrodden.
Clark was particularly known as a champion of civil rights and a staunch opponent of the death penalty.
He also famously advocated for anti-war policies at the height of the Vietnam War.
As a lawyer, Clark’s clients included controversial figures like former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milošević, the latter of whom stood accused of obstructing efforts by the International Criminal Court to punish the perpetrators of the genocide of Bosnian Muslims, according to The Hill.
The AP noted that he had a somewhat mixed reputation among the Jewish community:
He was an advocate for Soviet and Syrian Jews but outraged many Jews over other clients. He defended a Nazi prison camp guard fighting extradition and the Palestine Liberation Organization in a lawsuit over the killing of a cruise ship passenger by hijackers.
An “elder dean” to progressives
Ron Kuby, a New York-based civil rights attorney, told the AP after Clark’s death that the former AG was an “elder dean” to “the progressive legal community.”
“The progressive legal community has lost its elder dean and statesman. Over many generations, Ramsey Clark was a principled voice, conscience and a fighter for civil and human rights,” Kuby said.
The AP reported that Clark was just 38 “when Johnson made him attorney general in 1967, the second youngest ever — Robert Kennedy had been 36.”
All reports indicate that Clark genuinely believed justice was blind and that everyone was entitled to their day in court — even terrorists, evidently.
In an age when due process is being chipped away, the loss of figures like Ramsey Clark is unfortunate. The rise of cancel culture and other concepts antithetical to our justice system would surely have enraged someone like him.