Jack Weinstein, a longtime Great Neck resident who presided over several prominent national cases in his five-decade career as a federal judge, died Tuesday, according to multiple reports. He was 99.
Once the nation’s longest-serving federal judge, Weinstein was appointed to the federal bench in 1967 and went on to become chief judge of the Eastern District of New York before his retirement in February 2020.
Susan Berk, Weinstein’s wife whom he married in 2014, confirmed his death to The New York Times. Efforts to reach Berk or another party close to Weinstein for comment were unavailing.
A World War II veteran, Weinstein worked on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund with Thurgood Marshall — who would later become the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice — to litigate Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark 1954 case made racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
As a federal judge, Weinstein presided over a case that resulted in a $180 million settlement for veterans poisoned by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. He also worked on high-profile cases involving tobacco, asbestos and handguns.
Weinstein entered senior status on March 1, 1993, but maintained a full docket of cases until his retirement last year.
He ended his career with the 11th-longest total service tenure among federal judges in American history. He was the last remaining judge appointed by former President Lyndon Johnson.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921, Weinstein moved to Brooklyn with his family when he was 5 years old. He received his bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College in 1943 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1948. After law school, Weinstein spent time as a clerk at the New York State Court of Appeals for Justice Stanley Fuld.
Weinstein also served as county attorney of Nassau County in the 1960s, writing briefs and arguing against gerrymandering.
“Much of my judicial work has been enforcing anti-discrimination statutes designed to integrate as many people as possible into the country’s economy and life on as equal a basis as is practicable,” Weinstein said during a Temple Emanuel event in September 2017.
Weinstein is also a longtime honorary trustee of the Great Neck temple.
“We mourn the loss of our longtime member and honorary trustee, the distinguished jurist, Judge Jack B. Weinstein,” Temple Emanuel Rabbi Robert S. Widom said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “He was a towering figure both physically and intellectually, who, as the poet said, was like “a lordly cedar,” whose passing left a lonely place against the sky. Jack was an activist, who combined the rule of low with a deep belief in social justice. He will be missed.”
Aside from his wife, Berk, Weinstein is also survived by his sons Seth, Michael and Howard; his stepchildren Ronnie Rosenberg and Stephanie Berlin; two grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren, according to the Times.