Civil rights

Lawyer Stan Barer, political influencer on civil rights and trade with China, dies at 82


Stan Barer, a University of Washington law graduate and philanthropist who helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and paved the way for reopening trade with China, died this month at the age of 82 years old. He was fighting a 10-year battle with pancreatic cancer. .

“Stan represented the best in the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam – repair the world. He’s clearly left this world in a much better place to be here, ”said Bobbe Bridge, Barer’s legal partner and former state Supreme Court justice, in a UW statement.

Barer was born in Walla Walla and graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1957. After studying at Seattle Law School, he discovered that his employment opportunities at some law firms were limited due to his Jewish ancestry. So he got a job in the United States. Senator Warren Magnuson, one of Washington State’s most influential politicians.

It was, perhaps, kismet: Magnuson was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which drafted the public housing section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Barer acted as counsel. It was the start of a long legal and political career; Barer was Magnuson’s chief of staff, an early Democratic fundraiser, and a mentor to U.S. Senator Patty Murray.

Barer’s friends and colleagues described him as dedicated and impartial, with a liberal bent and a belief that common ground could be found with the leaders of each country. But he could also be tough, and was hardly a radical: Joel Connelly, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist who worked under Barer on Senator George McGovern’s presidential campaign in 1972, wrote that when Barer surprised Connelly and other young campaign staff smoking marijuana on the roof of the campaign headquarters, he said: “George McGovern told me I could fire any of you. . “

“Barer was a shaper, someone who was not just present in the creation but a creator,” Connelly wrote on opinion site Post Alley.

In his legal work, Barer took on clients as large as the Chinese state shipping conglomerate as he tried to access the US market. His legal interpretations cleared the way for American freighters to go to Shanghai in May 1979, and the following month a Chinese ship came to Seattle. After decades of hostility between the two countries, China is the main source of imports via Washington.

“It was he who really enabled trade and commerce between the United States and China, and in particular the Pacific Northwest,” said the former United States Ambassador to China and former Governor of Washington, Gary Locke, in a tribute to Barer.

Barer has been heavily involved in his alma mater UW, spending eight years as a regent and in 2010 establishing the Barer Institute for Law & Global Human Services which annually offers scholarships to leaders from developing countries such as the Indonesia, Nigeria and Colombia.

“Stan will be deeply missed, but we can be reassured by the many ways he has changed our lives and our world for the better,” UW President Ana Marie Cauce wrote in a blog post, “including by inspiring each of us to lead with our values: to be generous, to live with integrity and to seek the common humanity that we all share.

Barer is survived by his daughter, Leigh, and four grandsons.