Civil Rights Lawyer Hero Dies

Published January 12, 2009

Charles Morgan, Jr., whose legal brilliance was tapped for some of the most high-profile civil rights cases in modern history, has died. He was 78.

During his many courtroom battles, Morgan, helped craft the defense that compelled the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 1967 draft-evasion conviction of world heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali. Ali had been stripped of his title because of his beliefs as a Muslim precluded his involvement in the Vietnam war.

Morgan also challenged segregation laws during the ’60s.   His Supreme Court victory in Alabama in 1964 meant that voting districts had to be equal in population.

"It ended gerrymandering," Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, told the Associated Press. "It became a bedrock principle for voting rights. It changed the complexion of the South and the country." AP reports that “the case was one of a handful that made the ‘one man, one vote’ principle part of federal law and protected the political voice of voters in growing urban centers.”

Morgan, who passed away Thursday, died at his home in Destin, Fla., from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

"Chuck was a true giant of the legal profession," said Cohen, who once worked for Morgan's Washington law firm. "He was a creative genius and he was relentless in his pursuit of our Constitution. He was also an incredibly brave man and eloquent man."

Written by From Staff & Wire Services

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