Leonard G. Ratner; Constitutional Law Expert, Professor Emeritus at USC

Leonard G. Ratner, professor of law emeritus at USC, an authority on constitutional law and a frequent media spokesman on legal matters, died Thursday night in Palos Verdes Estates after a stroke.

Ratner, 78, was one of the first to say that Congress' authority to limit appellate jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court does not permit Congress to impair other, basic issues before the high court such as abortion, school prayer and desegregation. That view is now widely accepted.

Ratner testified often before the U.S. Senate--to which he was a consultant--on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and provided much of the work for the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.

"Leonard Ratner was a commanding scholar and an exemplary teacher," said Scott H. Bice, dean of the USC Law Center. "His writings had significant impact on the development of American law and his teaching influenced generations of law students."

A native of Los Angeles, Ratner earned his law degree from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall. He earned a doctorate degree from Harvard University and taught there until 1961, when he returned to USC. He also was a lecturer at Hebrew University in 1976 and retired in 1986.

Survivors include his wife, Catherine, and three sons.

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