It happened unexpectedly, while he was at a dermatologist’s office. He was 87:

The Los Angeles Times reports that it was a heart attack, and adds this about some of his more well-known decisions:

Reinhardt joined another judge in ruling that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional, a decision that was later overturned.

He wrote a ruling that said laws prohibiting physician-assisted suicide were unconstitutional and another that overturned California’s previous ban on same-sex marriage.

Reinhardt also lamented Supreme Court rulings that limited judges’ ability to overturn convictions and sentences on habeas corpus and complained about the flaws in death penalty cases.

I have railed about Stephen Reinhardt many, many times over the years. I did not consider his brand of judging to be intellectually honest. He frequently twisted the facts and the law to reach the result he wanted. To my knowledge, he never voted to affirm a death verdict, and I know he voted to reverse many of them. He would refuse to recuse himself from cases brought by the ACLU, the local chapter of which was headed by his wife. His opinions were frequently reversed by the Supreme Court — but, as he was reported to have said, “they can’t catch ’em all” — because the high court can take only so many cases.

Although I have been a frequent critic of his rulings, I’m sure he will be missed by his family and colleagues. My condolences to them on their loss.