“John was a great American, a dear friend and a champion of liberty,” says Susan Carleson, CEO and Chairman of the American Civil Rights Union. “He will be sorely missed.”
On August 20, 2010, ACRU Senior Legal Counsel John Armor passed away in a North Carolina hospital, following cancer surgery. He had appeared to be in full recovery, so his death was a shock to family and friends.
Armor, a graduate of Yale University and the University of Maryland School of Law, had a long and distinguished career, practicing before the U.S. Supreme Court for 33 years and authoring eight books and hundreds of articles. His latest book, These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls: America Then and Now in the Words of Tom Paine (ACRU 2010), is being released in early September.
“It was a blessing that he got to see it, hold it in his hands,” Carleson said.
A favorite at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and Tea Party events, especially in North Carolina where he lived, Armor dressed in colonial garb and impersonated Benjamin Franklin, explaining the origins of American liberties to 21st Century audiences. Some of his performances can be seen on YouTube.
“John was one of the first people that my husband Bob [Carleson] brought on board at the ACRU when there was no money, just great spirit,” said Carleson, who met Armor when they worked together on the National Commission of the Bicentennial of the Constitution in 1986. “He has been a delight to work with and will be sorely missed. This is a deep loss to his wife Michelle, to his children, his friends and his colleagues at the ACRU.”
Armor, who was one of the few attorneys to write an amicus brief in the presidential election case in 2000, was a well known legal scholar of American politics, particularly third party movements. He represented Eugene McCarthy during the Minnesota Senator’s challenge of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency in 1968.
“John was also the first to figure out the constitutional basis of recalling federal officials,” Carleson said. “That led to the ACRU’s current campaign, RecallCongressNow.org, to educate Americans about the laws in 11 states that allow for recall as a way to ensure greater accountability.”
For the past several years, Armor wrote the weekly “ACLU Outrages” feature for the ACRU’s website. “John had his finger on the pulse of the ACLU, tracking their misdeeds and writing amusing and disturbing accounts,” Carleson said. “He said he never worried about finding material, because the ACLU’s absurd stances came as reliably as ‘the rain falling on the fields of Ireland.'”