Fort Lauderdale, Florida (AP) —Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings, who was outraged throughout his tenure by impeachment that ended his soaring judicial career, died on Tuesday. He was 84 years old.
Hastings’ death was confirmed by his Chief of Staff, Lare M. Morrison. Hastings, a Democrat in the Fort Lauderdale region, announced two years ago that he had pancreatic cancer.
Hastings was known as the voice of minority advocates, Israeli advocates, and gays, immigrants, women, and the elderly. He has held senior positions in the Parliamentary Procedures Committee of the House of Representatives and the Helsinki Committee, which works with other countries on various multinational issues.
“Parliamentarian Hastings has left a strong legacy of activism and action on behalf of Floridian and all Americans. His leadership and friendship will be lost by many of his friends in Congress.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
However, his impeachment remained a persistent footnote. It was repeatedly called up in news accounts and was considered upsetting his ambitions for a larger leadership role.
“It seems to be the only thing important to writers,” Hastings told The Associated Press in 2013, predicting that the impeachment would be in the first paragraph of his death article.
Despite his seniority, Hastings was taken over by the House Intelligence Committee chairman when the Democratic Party ruled Congress in 2006. be discouraged.
“I’m sorry, I hate it,” he said when he wasn’t selected for an intelligence post, “God hasn’t finished with me yet.”
Under Florida law, Governor Ron DeSantis will call for special elections in the coming months to fill vacancies. The Hastings district is overwhelmingly democratic — he received 80% of the votes in November.
Hastings’ death, meanwhile, reduced the majority of Democrats to just 218-211 in the House of Representatives. Their narrow margins have forced the party to collect nearly unanimous votes and push the bill into parliament, boosting Republicans’ hopes of gaining control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections.
There are 6 vacant seats – 4 from the Democratic seats and 2 Republicans.
The seat won by Republican Luke Letlow died at COVID-19 and moved to the widow Julia Letlow, who won the special election, before taking office. The rest are expected to be held by the same party who held them.
Born September 5, 1936, in Alta Monte Springs, Florida, primarily in the black suburbs of Orlando, Hastings was the son of a maid and a butler. He attended Fisk University and Florida A & M. After earning a law degree, he started his own business and received frequent civil rights proceedings free of charge. He failed to bid on the Senate in 1970 and subsequently won a state ruling.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated him as a member of Congress. He was the first black man to serve as a federal judge in Florida since the reconstruction.
From the beginning, his career was characterized by controversy. His harsh criticisms of President Ronald Reagan, the appearance of then-Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson at the 1984 rally, and other moves considered unusual to incumbent federal judges cast doubt on his impartiality. .. But Hastings claimed he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
“I speak out of court because I am a citizen and have the heartfelt interests of many in this country,” he said. “I think it’s better to have a civil servant express himself. I don’t think being a judge does not mean that I’m castrated.”
But it didn’t take long before his judicial career derailed. He became the first judge in the United States to attempt criminal accusations.
Hastings, along with Washington lawyer William Borders Jr., was accused of seeking a $ 150,000 bribe from two convicted racket traders seeking to shorten their sentence. Hastings claimed that the Borders sought a bribe without his knowledge.
The border was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. Hastings was acquitted, but it did not put an end to his ethical questions, and the Judiciary Committee accused him of forging his defense. Hastings argued that Congress’s actions corresponded to a double crisis, but the House of Representatives impeached him in 1988 and the Senate convicted him in 1989.
A federal judge later overturned the impeachment, saying Hastings was improperly tried by a committee of twelve members rather than the entire Senate, but his immunity was short-lived. In a later ruling in the case of another exiled judge, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the court could never presume the Senate’s power to dismiss federal authorities.
By that time, Hastings had already won parliamentary seats in 1992 and had taken an oath in front of the same group that impeached him.
Like many other moves in Hastings’ life, his path to Congress was a high-profile battle. He won seats after two violent spills, fueled primarily by racist accusations in the black district.
At one point, in a fierce race with Lois Frankel, he snapped to a Palm Beach Post reporter, “The bitch is a racist.” However, he continued to win and was easily reelected many times.
Frankel won her own ticket to Congress 20 years later as a Hastings democratic colleague. She called him a friend on Tuesday.
“He was a fierce fighter for civil rights and racial justice, and a great partner in Congress when it came to serving South Florida,” Frankel said in a statement.
Hastings was not a stranger to the controversy, even in recent years. In 2011, a former aide filed a sexual harassment proceeding against him, claiming that he always hugged her against her will, pressed her cheeks against her, and offered to go to a hotel room. Hastings called them “ridiculous, weird, frivolous” accusations.
The House Ethics Commission cleared Hastings in 2014 and found that there was no “substantial reason to believe” the claim and that “a significant amount of evidence” cast doubt.
“I enjoyed some fights and even the process of being prosecuted and removed from the bench,” he told AP in 2013. I didn’t and I didn’t. “