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Liberal US appeals judge Betty Fletcher dies at 89

SEATTLE — Longtime federal appeals court Judge Betty Fletcher has died. She was 89.

She passed away Monday night. The cause wasn’t known.

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Judge Fletcher was a liberal stalwart of the Ninth Circuit known for rulings upholding ­affirmative action, overturning death penalty cases, and protecting endangered whales from sonar tests by the Navy.

She was also known for getting back at Republicans in the US Senate who delayed the appointment of her son, William A. Fletcher, to the Ninth Circuit. To ease his path, she offered to take senior status on the bench, freeing up her seat for someone acceptable to US Senator Slade Gorton of Washington, a Republican.

Instead of actually retiring, Judge Fletcher continued carrying a full load of cases.

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