Betty Fletcher Dies, 9th Circuit Judge Was 89

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By Emma Koonse, Christian Post Reporter
October 24, 2012|10:18 am

Liberal U.S. Appeals court judge Betty Fletcher died at age 89 on Monday, according to a spokesperson for the court.

Fletcher, a judge with the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, died at her home in Seattle on Monday night. No immediate cause of death was announced, reported the Associated Press.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Fletcher to the bench in 1979, and she was known as a die-hard liberal. Her rulings upheld affirmative action, allowing discrimination in the workplace claims to proceed, overturning death penalty cases and protecting the environment, reported AP.

Fletcher graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in 1942 at the age of 19. After one year of law school, she resumed her legal education a decade later at the University of Washington School of Law, where she graduated among the top of her class in 1956.

She went on to become the first women to become a partner at a major Pacific Northwest law firm at Preston Gates & Ellis, now K&L Gates.

Fletcher was active with the Washington State Bar Association, and served as the first female president of the King County Bar Association in Seattle from 1972 to 1973.

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Moreover, Fletcher became the second woman appointed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"She had experienced discrimination herself in her life, and her perspective included looking out for the downtrodden, the little person, but always within the framework of the law," explained Seattle U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik of Fletcher.

Two of her children, William and Susan, followed in their mother's footsteps and became lawyers. Today, William Fletcher is also a 9th Circuit justice. After her son joined the 9th Circuit bench, Fletcher took senior status.

Many users on Twitter mourned Fletcher's death with posts on Wednesday.

"Very, very sad to learn of the passing of 9th Circuit Judge Betty Fletcher, 89," wrote Dan. "A true legal giant and pioneer for women in the profession."

Shan wrote, "Whoah, what a woman! 9th Circuit Liberal Judge Betty Fletcher dies."

Jeffrey called Fletcher a "legend," and Palo Alto News referred to the late judge as "a trailblazer for women in law."

Also praising Fletcher's career, Judge William A. Fletcher once wrote that a Supreme Court that leans toward conservatism was increasingly reversing his mother's rulings. He described Fletcher's rulings as a "distinguished record of reversals."

"Mom has tried not only to do justice in the case before her, but also to shape the law to do justice in the cases that will come after," said Fletcher of his mother.

 

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