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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 4, 1999


Justice Harry Blackmun, who died this morning, was a great American citizen. In 24 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Harry Blackmun served with compassion, distinction and honor. Every decision and every dissent was firmly grounded in the Constitution he revered, and his uncanny feel for the human element that lies just beneath the surface of all serious legal argument.

You can see his mind and heart at work in the landmark decision he wrote protecting women's rights to reproductive freedom, and in his decisions to make the promise of civil rights actually come alive in the daily existence of the American people.

Hillary and I were deeply privileged to know Justice Blackmun and his wonderful wife of 58 years, Dottie, for quite a long while. I saw up close Harry Blackmun's intense passion -- his passion for the welfare of the American people, for defending our liberties and our institutions, for moving us forward together. We send our respect and our prayers to Dottie and to his three daughters.

To the millions of Americans whose voices he heard and whose rights he defended, to the countless numbers of us who knew and loved him, Harry Blackmun's life embodied the admonition of the prophet, Micah: He did justice, and he loved mercy. And now, he walks humbly with his God.