The Honorable Nahum “Naami” Litt (1935-2019)
Government Accountability Project is saddened to announce the passing of the Honorable Naami Litt. A pioneer for corporate whistleblowers’ free speech rights, Chief Judge Litt leaves a unique legacy that will make a difference for countless Americans. Officially high in the federal government’s power elites, he used his position to live his values by blowing the whistle on abuses of power both on the job and after his retirement.
We at Government Accountability Project viewed Chief Judge Litt as an ally in the promotion of truth and democracy through his recognition and enforcement of free speech rights for both government and corporate employees. Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine expressed his gratitude that is shared throughout the whistleblower rights community for Litt’s leadership:
“Judge Litt personified what it means to be a public servant. Under his leadership, the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges became our government’s best practice for due process to enforce whistleblower rights.”
As a way of ensuring the continued legacy of truth-telling that he embraced during his tenure at the Department of Labor and afterward, Chief Judge Litt’s family established a special non-profit and tax deductible litigation fund at Government Accountability Project which will help whistleblowers of limited financial means seek justice through the public interest litigation of their concerns. To add to the fund, click here and select “Naami Litt Memorial Fund.” To share memories of Litt, join the Facebook Group “Remembering Judge Nahum Litt.”
See Judge Litt’s full obituary here, published in the Washington Post:
Born in Baltimore, Maryland to parents who escaped what is now Ukraine, he went on to Cornell and then Columbia Law, began US Government service as an attorney for ICC, went on to FERC, and was appointed Chief Judge at CAB in 1977. He served as Chief Judge of the US Department of Labor from 1979 until 1995.
Judge Litt has a unique legacy that has made a difference for countless Americans. As the Labor Department’s Chief Administrative Judge, he breathed life into rights that were largely unknown or ignored in practice. He greatly expanded the number of judges available to decide worker rights cases, ranging from workers compensation (for coal miners, longshore and harbor workers, offshore oil workers, and military base workers) to whistleblower cases, wage cases and union rights cases. He lived his values by uncovering abuses of power both on the job and after his retirement.
As an active member of the American Bar Association, Judge Litt shepherded through it several major resolutions including gay rights protections (1989), whistleblower rights (1990), and security clearance due process (1989). He was also a major proponent of the Core Bill, which would bring the Administrative Law Judges out from under the budgets of the agencies for which they decided cases, ensuring judicial independence without risk of reprisal.
In retirement Litt continued as a crusader, with a local blog (The Shadow), devoted to addressing waste and corruption in his adopted town of New Smyrna Beach.
He loved travel, birding, opera, thrift shops, and knowing more than a little about just about everything.
To contact the family , offer memories, or donate in his memory, see JudgeLitt.com.