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First Black Chief Judge of U.S. District Court Dies
Bryant, who continued hearing cases as a senior judge until recently, died Sunday night, court spokesman Sheldon Snook said.
President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Bryant to the federal bench in 1965, after Bryant distinguished himself in private practice and as a federal prosecutor in Washington. He was first hired as an assistant U.S. attorney in 1951.
On Friday, President George W. Bush signed legislation that will name a new $110 million (euro94 million), nine-courtroom addition to the federal courthouse in Bryant's honor.
Bryant was known for his dedication to constitutional law and believed that lawyers could stop injustice.
``Without lawyers, this is just a piece of paper,'' he said of the Constitution in an interview with The Washington Post last year.
``If it weren't for lawyers, I'd still be three-fifths of a man. If it weren't for lawyers, we'd still have signs directing people this way and that, based on the color of their skin.''
Bryant was a graduate of Howard University and its law school, where he taught for more than 20 years.
His wife of 60 years, Astaire, died in 1997.