Friday, July 10, 2015
Memorial Set for Federal Judge Gordon Thompson Jr.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A memorial service will be held July 28 for Senior U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. of the Southern District of California.
Thompson, who was perhaps best known for presiding over the Mount Soledad cross case in San Diego, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 85. Thompson, the longest-serving judge on the district’s bench, was appointed by then-President Richard Nixon in 1970 and took senior status in 1991.
Thompson, whose oldest son John Thompson is a San Diego Superior Court judge, presided over cases until shortly before his death, Chief U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz said in a statement to the San Diego Union- Tribune.
Gordon Thompson gained notoriety in 1991 when he ruled that the location of the Mount Soledad cross on public land violated the Establishment Clause and ordered it removed. He continued to preside over the case for years.
Thompson — whose father, Gordon Thompson Sr., was presiding judge of the San Diego Superior Court — drew national attention in 1982 when he sent a draft-resister to prison, the first judge to do so since the Vietnam War period, the newspaper reported.
Thompson attended local public schools and was a 1951 graduate of the University of Southern California before going on to Southwestern Law School. He was apparently the first Southwestern graduate to be appointed an Article III federal judge.
He served as a San Diego County deputy district attorney from 1957 until 1960, when he went into private practice. His brother, Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Thompson, died in 2011.
The brothers sat on a Ninth Circuit panel in 1996, along with Judge J. Clifford Wallace. It is believed to have been the first-ever panel made up of three San Diegans.
The July 28 memorial is planned for 2 p.m. at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, according to the Union-Tribune.
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