Last edited: December 31, 2004


Ex-Supreme Court Justice Powell Dies

Associated Press, August 25, 1998

WASHINGTON, DC—Retired Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, who for 15 years played a pivotal role in shaping American law as a "majority maker" on the high court, died today at age 90.

Powell died of pneumonia in his sleep at 4:30 a.m. EDT at his home in Richmond, Va., according to a statement released by the court.

Powell cast the controlling votes when the court first upheld the concept of affirmative action and ruled that consenting adults have no constitutional right to engage in homosexual conduct.

Powell’s health had waned in recent months. In December, he closed the office he had kept at the Supreme Court building since his 1987 retirement. Poor health prevented his traveling to the nation’s capital from his home in Richmond, Va.

Powell’s last hospitalization for any significant duration had been in 1991, after he suffered a fainting spell and irregular heartbeat while attending a meeting in Baltimore. He also had hip-replacement surgery in 1991.

Powell cited concern for his health when he retired, but in a 1990 interview he told The Associated Press, "My health has remained better than I anticipated."

In that interview, Powell said, "Let’s face it, I’ve outlived my generation. Most of the friends I have held dear through my life are dead now."

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