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U.S. Judge Who Helped Strike Down California Gay Marriage Ban Dies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Judge Stephen Reinhardt was an unabashed liberal on what's widely considered the nation's most left-leaning appeals court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

His outspoken liberalism was unusual for a judge. Supporters lauded him as a champion of immigrants, prisoners and the disadvantaged, while critics said his decisions were extreme.

Ninth Circuit spokesman David Madden said Reinhardt died Thursday of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 87 and still an active member of the court he joined in 1980 after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter.

Reinhardt joined another judge in ruling in 2002 that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional.

And one of his most prominent decisions was writing the 2012 decision striking down California's gay marriage ban.

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