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Record: Legal Oral History Project: Henry T. Reath


Legal Oral History Project: Henry T. Reath

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1444 Biddle Law Library
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Henry T. Reath L’48, Philadelphia, an attorney at Duane Morris for 53 years, until his retirement in 2001; Jan. 31. He worked for the rights of the disadvantaged, particularly poor prisoners without adequate legal representation. As an advocate for judicial reform and First Amendment rights, he was the principal organizer and co-chair of Good Judges for Philadelphia. He also advocated a merit-system judiciary for the state of Pennsylvania. Twice he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court: in 1975, for the rights of parents and students to receive public funds to supplement private, nonsectarian education; and, in 1985, on behalf of students’ free-speech rights. Near the end of his career he represented, pro bono, inmates serving life sentences at Graterford Prison. He was honored with the Judge William H. Hastie Award from the NAACP, the first Criminal Justice Award from the Pennsylvania Society, and the Champion of Justice Award from Community Legal Services. “Henry Reath was an incredibly skilled lawyer who … was a fighter for justice, for our society’s most challenged citizens,” said Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell C’65 Hon’00. “The people he helped have lost a champion.” During World War II he served in the U.S. Army, where he was awarded the Bronze Star as a combat officer in Europe. He commanded the German POW camp at Ansbach before being discharged as a captain in 1946. His father and grandfather were graduates of the University’s School of Law.


  • Reath, Henry T.


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