The last Federal judge appointed by President Jimmy Carter, Stephen Roy Reinhardt died March 29, 2018 from a heart attack; he was 86.
His chart is not rectified but set for sunrise on March 21, 1931 at Brooklyn New York where he was born to lawyer Samuel Shapiro, and Silvia Handelsman. His name was changed after his mother divorced his father and married Gottfried Reinhardt, the son of Austrian director, Max Reinhardt. His parents moved to Los Angeles for Reinhardts career and Stephen graduated from Los Angeles high school and then attended Pomona College, thirty-five miles away in Claremont, matriculating in 1951 with a B.A. in Government. In 1954, he received an LL.B. from Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut.
The judge was considered to be one of the most liberal judges on the 9th Circuit as his rulings often placed him on the side of immigrants and prisoners (his Sun is confined in the twelfth house) . In a 2012 opinion, struck down California’s gay marriage ban — Venus in Aquarius in the eleventh house square the North Node of supporting unpopular and bohemian partnership issues.
Mapping Judge Reinhardt
His chart shows him to be a lipped bowl scooping up experience with Neptune in the creative fifth house and distilling that thru his sense of civic duty. With his Mars in Cancer opposite his Saturn in Capricorn his point focus at his North Node in the seventh house of partnerships and opportunities demonstrating his ability to be theatrical to get his points across — obviously learning from his stepfather’s directorial abilities.
Judge Reinhardt has a preponderance of Arian planets in his first house that highlight his ability to take a stand in his beliefs, but with a square from Cancer show that his parents divorce was something he was very sensitive to, & keen to the rights of those people whose voice he felt not was openly heard, but felt.
He is survived by his wife Ramona Ripston, age 91, who was the former executive head of the ACLU Southern California branch, and their three children. Ms. Ripston was the first woman to head a major ACLU affliate when she took over in 1972. They lived in Marina del Rey, California where the average house valuation, non-waterfront, is $660.000; waterfront 1.6 million dollars per Trulia.com
Joshua Matz, a constitutional lawyer based in Washington who also clerked for Judge Reinhardt and Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The questions and their answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What was Judge Reinhardt like?
Mr. Matz: Judge Reinhardt ranked among the most brilliant and influential judges in modern American history. His mastery of doctrine was equaled only by his conviction that law must aspire to justice, especially for the voiceless and vulnerable. His powerful opinions and tactical savvy — not to mention his rock-ribbed liberalism — made Reinhardt a hero to the left and a villain to the right.
Q: What were some of his most famous opinions?
Mr. Fisher: Judge Reinhardt persuaded colleagues on his appeals court, for example, to establish a right of terminally ill adults to physician-assisted suicide. He also spearheaded rulings forbidding states from establishing English as an official language and barring public schools from compelling students to recite the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. But the Supreme Court rebuffed him each time.
Two years after vacating an opinion by Judge Reinhardt forbidding states from banning same-sex couples from marrying, the Supreme Court adopted just that constitutional rule.
Q: Can you give us a layman’s explanation of the Ninth Circuit and tell us why it’s important?
Mr. Fisher: The Ninth Circuit is the largest of the 12 regional federal courts of appeals. It encompasses territory on the West Coast and adjacent states covering roughly one fifth of the U.S. population. Twenty-nine full-time judges sit on the court. Whereas the Supreme Court hears only about 75 cases a year, the Ninth Circuit hears thousands.
Because California and other western states continually innovate everything from the economy to social policy, the Ninth Circuit tends to hear an outsized portion of “big” cases. It is no accident, therefore, that Judge Reinhardt found himself so often on panels asked to resolve cutting edge legal issues.
Q: Who decides who will replace Judge Reinhardt — and how does it happen?
Mr. Matz: Federal judges are nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate. Although presidents have traditionally consulted with home-state senators, President Trump and the G.O.P.-controlled Senate have largely abandoned that practice. Instead, they have moved at an aggressive pace to confirm deeply conservative judges.
There are several vacancies on the Ninth Circuit, now including Judge Reinhardt’s seat. We can expect that over the next year, or less, President Trump will nominate judges to fill most of those positions. However, at this point it is impossible to predict who he will nominate to replace Judge Reinhardt.