Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida, a former civil rights lawyer and federal judge who served in Congress for nearly three decades and became the vice chairman of the House Rules Committee, died Tuesday morning. He was 84.
Mr. Hastings, a Democrat, had announced in 2019 that he had pancreatic cancer. His death was confirmed by his chief of staff, Lale Morrison.
His death will narrow Democrats’ already-slim House majority until a special election can be held to fill the seat. His district — Florida’s 20th, which includes Black communities around Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach as well as a huge, less-populated area around Lake Okeechobee — is reliably Democratic.
Mr. Hastings was born September 5, 1936, in Altamonte Springs, Fla. He attended Fisk University and earned a law degree from Florida A&M University. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, making him the first Black federal judge in Florida, according to his congressional biography.
He was impeached in 1989 on charges of bribery and perjury, but three years later, a federal court ruled that the Senate had improperly removed him. He won election to the House shortly after and took his seat in 1993.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia Williams, and four children.
With Mr. Hastings’s death, there are now 218 Democrats and 211 Republicans in the House, with six seats vacant. One of those seats is expected to be filled next week by Julia Letlow, a Republican who won a special election in Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District after her husband, Representative-elect Luke Letlow, died of Covid-19.
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