Christopher Edley Jr., Civil Rights Expert Heard by Presidents, Dies at 71

Christopher Edley Jr., a civil rights expert and policy adviser who worked closely with three Democratic presidents and six presidential campaigns and served as an innovative dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, died on Friday in Stanford, Calif. He was 71.

His wife, Maria Echaveste, a deputy chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, said the cause of death, in a hospital, was complications of surgery.

Though he spent most of his career in teaching, including 23 years at Harvard Law School, his alma mater, Mr. Edley’s career spanned the academic-political divide.

In the late 1970s, he worked for the White House domestic policy staff, specializing on issues like food stamps, child welfare and disability for President Jimmy Carter. Over a decade later, he took a leave from Harvard to be an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton.

Both roles came after working as a top Democratic campaign adviser, a role he also performed for Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, Howard Dean and Barack Obama.

In all cases he was known as a stalwart advocate for liberal policies on race, especially affirmative action, a position that often put him at odds with Democratic centrists eager to moderate the party’s civil rights stance.

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