Tributes are being paid to Hans Linde, a legal scholar whose influence extended beyond his three decades as a University of Oregon law professor and an Oregon Supreme Court justice.
Linde died Aug. 31 at age 96 at his home in Portland. He retired from the high court in 1990, but remained active as a jurist in residence at Willamette University law school. He taught state constitutional law.
He was best known in legal circles as one of the originators of the "new judicial federalism," which relies on state constitutions for guarantees of civil liberties beyond those in the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.
"Even other faculty members tried to get into his course," Jack Landau, himself a retired Oregon Supreme Court justice who also teaches law as a jurist in residence at Willamette, said in an email.
They did not sit on the high court at the same time — Landau was appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals in 1993, elected to the Supreme Court in 2010 and retired at the end of 2017 — but they were on the Willamette law faculty together.
"He was a marvelous mentor to younger judges and teachers like me," Landau recalled.
"He used to send me critiques of my opinions when I was on the bench, usually followed by lunch and spirited debate over one subject or another. He was never defensive in the face of disagreement. If anything, he welcomed it. What was important to Hans was that you engaged with him and with the difficult issues that interested him."
Chief Justice Martha Walters began a lengthy tribute of her own with this description of Linde:
"Hans Linde was Oregon's preeminent legal scholar, teacher, and judge. His effect on Oregon law cannot be overstated, but he also was a friend and mentor to many. Hans had a breadth of interests and a depth of kindness that those who saw only the public person and his work may not have known."
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe was quoted Sept. 3 in The New York Times describing Linde as "one of the giants of the American judiciary."
Linde was born April 15, 1924, in Berlin, Germany, to Bruno Cohn Linde, a lawyer, and Luise (Rosenheim) Linde. The family moved to Denmark in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, and then immigrated to Portland in 1939.
He attended Lincoln High School, where he met his future wife, Helen Tucker. The high school building later became part of Portland State University. He also was elected as assistant editor of the Lincoln Cardinal, the student newspaper, though he wondered why it was an elected position. His English teacher was Maurine Brown, who became Maurine Neuberger.
In addition to his wife, Linde is survived by a son, David, who is chief executive of Participant Media; a daughter, Lisa, and two grandchildren.
Linde was in the Army during World War II. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1947 from Reed College, and his law degree in 1950 from the University of California at Berkeley. He then was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, a lawyer for the State Department — where his boss was the father of Richard Meeker, the retired publisher of Willamette Week and the husband of Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum — and a legislative assistant for Oregon Sen. Richard Neuberger, whose wife Maurine eventually succeeded him.
He joined the law faculty at the University of Oregon in 1959 and taught there until Gov. Bob Straub named him to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1977.
It was 50 years ago when Linde wrote a groundbreaking article for the Oregon Law Review, "Without Due Process: Unconstitutional Law in Oregon."
"Hans developed and explored a new approach to state constitutional interpretation, one now embraced by state supreme courts and legal scholars across the country," Walters, who earned her law degree in 1977 at Oregon, said in her statement.
Landau said Linde's influence on legal thinking should not be underestimated. He wrote:
"Even a quarter century after he retired from the bench, when I traveled to speak at various conferences about state constitutional law, scholars and judges from around the country would ask me about Hans and remark about how fortunate we in Oregon are to have benefited from his wisdom."
Some of Linde's work was done in collaboration with Dave Frohnmayer, also an Oregon law professor who went on to be Oregon attorney general, Oregon law school dean and president of the University of Oregon.
On and off the court
Linde applied his views in a range of cases decided by the Oregon Supreme Court.
"He was known as an advocate for a more expansive view of individual rights under the Oregon Constitution, especially in the areas of free expression and equal privileges and immunities," Landau wrote.
One 1982 case (Oregon v. Robertson) expanded Oregon's free-expression guarantee beyond the similar First Amendment right in the U.S. Constitution. A 1981 case (Oregon v. Clark) set the framework for the "privileges and immunities" provision that guarantees equal protection of the law under the Oregon Constitution.
Linde was unopposed for a six-year term in 1978. But when he came up for election in 1984, he drew two opponents — Marion County Judge Albin Norblad and David Nissman, then a Lane County deputy district attorney — who challenged his views of the constitutional rights of criminal defendants as being soft on crime.
He was forced into a runoff with Norblad. Though Linde won, he said at a symposium four years later, "American adherence to judicial elections is an incomprehensible as our rejection of the metric system."
Walters said Linde also paid attention to public aspects of the law.
"Hans also attended seminars for school children in eastern Oregon and introduced them to the basics of civil procedure and the courts, using the example of kids arguing about possession of a toy and running to mom to get a decision," she wrote.
In 1997, seven years after its predecessor became inactive, Linde teamed with then-Attorney General Hardy Myers to advocate for the Oregon Law Commission to recommend legal improvements to the Legislature.
"Until his last days, Justice Linde discussed legal education — especially the absence of sufficient training in public law — and possible structures for maintenance of world peace," Walters said. "There is not, and never will be, anyone like him."
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