Luther W. Youngdahl – Second Lieutenant, United States Army

Governor of Minnesota – Federal Judge

From a contemporay news report:

“A former three-term governor of Minnesota who earned national fame for court rulings in the McCarthy era, died of cancer at home on June 21, 1978. He was 82 and had remained active at the courthouse until last month. A Republican, he resigned as Governor in 1951 to accept appointment from President Harry Truman as Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He achieved notoriety when in 1952 he dismissed as unconstitutional key parts of the Government's case agaisnt Owen J. Lattimore, the prime target of the anti-Communist campaign of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin. The Government charged that Lattimore, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and an expert in Asian affairs, lied when he told a Senate committee that he had never been a Communist sympathizer. McCarthy once testified that Lattimore was “the top Soviet espionage agent in the United States.”

“Youngdahl later denied a U.S. Attorney's request that he withdraw from the case on the grounds that he was prejudiced against the Government. Then, in 1955, he threw out a new indictment brought against Lattimore, and the Government dropped its case. Youngdahl, who was appointed to the Federal bench in 1951, said later that he was prouder of his rulings in the Lattimore case than anything else he had ever done in the legal profession. In dismissing the indictments against Lattimore, he wrote in defense of the First Admendment rights: “When public excitement runs high as to alien ideologies is the time when we must be particularly alert not to impair the ancient landmarks set up in the Bill of Rights.”

“Born in Minneapolis on May 29, 1896, as the son of Swedish immigrants. He was successively a municipal judge in Minneapolis, a judge of the Hennepin County Court and associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Elected in 1947 to the first of three two-year terms as Governor of Minnesota, he established a reputation for breaking up rackets and reforming mental institutions. Surivivors include his wife, Irene Annet Engdahl; a daughter, two sons. A memorial service will be held at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in suburban Silver Spring, Maryland.”

He is buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery.







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