Carl Rachlin, a New York labor and civil rights lawyer who rallied to the defense of Freedom Riders and sit-in demonstrators during the 1960’s, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.
The cause was heart failure, his family said.
At the time of the most intense struggle against segregation, Mr. Rachlin was general counsel to the Congress of Racial Equality (1960-67), and he worked closely with civil rights leaders, including James Farmer and Bayard Rustin. Over the years, he also represented the National Welfare Rights Organization and sat on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
He was also legal director of the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Unity from 1963 to 1969. In 1964, he helped form and lead the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee, which enlisted lawyers to defend civil rights campaigners in the Deep South.
Mr. Rachlin fought such cases all the way to the United States Supreme Court. He filed a review that prompted the court in June 1961 to overturn the conviction of six Freedom Riders who had entered a ”whites only” waiting room at a Louisiana bus terminal.
Reprinted in the New York Times, January 4, 2000.