The representative for Florida’s 20th Congressional district, Alcee Hastings, passed away April 6, 2021, a little more than two years after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He had led an extraordinary life, with public career marked by one great scandal and an astonishing comeback.
Hastings, an African-American, was a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee (1958), and the Florida A&M University’s College of Law (1963). In 1979, President James Earl Carter nominated him to the federal bench, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In 1981, though, he was caught in a sting operation by the FBI and charged with soliciting bribes in exchange for lenient sentences. He was acquitted of the criminal charge after a key witness refused to testify at his trial. But he was impeached by the US House (’88) and convicted (and so removed from the bench) by the Senate in 1989.
The Thing to Know:
There are lots of second acts in American life: sometimes third and fourth acts. Only three years after having been unceremoniously ejected from the bench, Hastings was elected to the House that had impeached him.
Over the decades that followed, Hastings built up seniority and became an influential member of the Democratic Party’s House leadership, and of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.