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The Latest: Politicians praise late Judge Damon J. Keith

April 28, 2019

DETROIT (AP) — The Latest on Damon J. Keith, federal judge who died Sunday (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

Michigan politicians are praising prominent Judge Damon J. Keith as a “legal trailblazer” and a “civil rights icon.”

Keith died in Detroit on Sunday at age 96.

Among those paying tribute to him are Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.

In their statements, they spoke of Keith’s courage in the face of what Whitmer called the “attacks and threats from others” in his defense of individual liberties and in his commitment to end racism.

Keith was a grandson of slaves who served more than 50 years in the federal courts. He captured the nation’s attention when he was sued by President Richard Nixon over a ruling against warrantless wiretaps.

Whitmer said she planned to order that all U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol complex and on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff on the day of the judge’s internment.

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11:52 a.m.

Damon J. Keith, a federal judge famous for being sued President Richard Nixon and an iconic national figure in the civil rights movement has died at the age of 96.

Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit confirmed that the judge died Sunday morning but did not have any other details.

Keith was appointed to the U.S. District Court in 1967. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, he was the only African American among six current federal judges to have served more than 50 years.

The case that raised Nixon’s ire came in 1971, when Keith ruled wiretapping couldn’t be done without a court order. Thirty years later, he ruled President George W. Bush couldn’t conduct secret deportation hearings of terrorism suspects.