Facebook Twitter

Blackmun lauded for compassion, his judicial vision

SHARE Blackmun lauded for compassion, his judicial vision

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun took a hard job at 61, when many people think about retiring, and kept at it for 24 years with compassion, good humor and a scientist's curiosity, his successor on the highest court said.

Blackmun helped see the nation through important reckonings with First Amendment freedoms, racial equality and the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision for which he is best remembered, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said at a memorial service Tuesday.Blackmun died Thursday at 90. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Supreme Court colleagues and Attorney General Janet Reno also attended the service.

As unusually heavy snow fell on Washington, a fellow native Minnesotan, humorist Garrison Keillor, led mourners in singing the Irish lullaby "Toura Loura, Loura." Keillor said it was a Blackmun favorite.

Breyer, who succeeded Blackmun on the court, said in Blackmun's 24-year tenure he "made a direct, conscious effort to reach out and understand those whose life experience was different from his own."

Blackmun retired from the court in 1994 at age 85 because, he said, he knew "what the numbers are," and it was time to go, Breyer remembered.