Youngdahl, Luther W., 1896-1978Variant names
Luther Wallace Youngdahl was born in Minneapolis on May 29, 1896, the son of John Carl and Elizabeth (Johnson) Youngdahl. He was educated in the Minneapolis Public Schools, attended the University of Minnesota for a year and then transferred to Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota. After service in World War I, he returned to Gustavus Adolphus and was graduated from there in 1919. He began his law studies at the Minnesota College of Law (later William Mitchell College of Law) and was graduated from there in 1921.
From 1921 to 1930 Youngdahl was assistant city attorney for Minneapolis and was a partner in the law office of M.C. Tifft. From 1930 to 1936 he served as a municipal judge for the city of Minneapolis and, from 1936 to 1942, as a judge on the Hennepin County District Court. In 1942 he was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court as associate justice and held that position until 1946, when he resigned to run for governor of Minnesota on the Republican Party ticket. He was elected governor in 1946 and was re-elected in 1948 and 1950. His gubernatorial terms were highlighted by enactment of an anti-slot machine law and a new mental health law considered one of the nation's models at the time.
In 1951 he was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) by Democratic President Harry S. Truman. The appointment generated accusations that Youngdahl was chosen so that he would not run against then Senator Hubert H. Humphrey. One of Youngdahl's most significant federal cases involved Owen J. Lattimore, who was accused of disloyalty by supporting the insurgent Chinese communist movement. Youngdahl's decisions in the case largely supported Lattimore's First Amendment rights and created much public discussion.
Youngdahl served on the federal bench until his retirement in 1966, after which he served as a senior judge for hearing special cases.
Youngdahl married Irene Annet Engdahl on June 23, 1923. They had three children: Margaret, William and David. Luther Youngdahl died June 21, 1978 at his home in Washington, D.C.,,and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
From the guide to the Luther W Youngdahl papers., 1923-1968., (Minnesota Historical Society)
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