Today, U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) died at the age of 92 in Washington, D.C.
This is a huge loss for the United States Senate. Even though he had not been able to attend very many hearings in past couple of years, the institutional knowledge that has been lost today is immense. He wrote five books on topics ranging from a complete history of the United States Senate to ancient deliberations in the Roman Senate. He was a stickler for Senate rules and carried around a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution in the breast pocket of his suit.
While he was, indeed, once part of the Ku Klux Klan for a brief time and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I cannot judge the actions of another era by today’s standards. What I can say is that he eventually became a progressive leader for the Democratic Party is United States Senate, and a voice against increasing corporate influence in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. He was a good Democrat, a great West Virginian, a legendary American, and he will be missed.