Remembering Robert H. Jackson at Nuremberg Decades Ago

After World War II ended in 1945, the organizers of the upcoming Nuremberg trials had an elusive vacancy on their personnel list. They needed a young military officer who (1) was already taught never to say no, (2) was short some six months of additional service before becoming eligible to resume civilian life, (3) possessed a good working grasp of the Russian language, and (4) had a solid record of experience and achievement in the legal profession. What a combo! Believe it or not, yours truly was found to have all such qualifications and was solicited to join the American legal team at Nuremberg.

Brown v. Board of Education Law Clerks Roundtable

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States decided in Brown v. Board of Education that state and federal laws segregating public school children by race were unconstitutional. In Brown, which actually is the name of just one of the five lower court decisions on school segregation that the Supreme Court reviewed 50 years ago, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for a Supreme Court that was unanimous. The Court in Brown explicitly rejected its own almost 60-year-old precedent approving "separate but equal" public institutions and facilities for persons of differing races. Brown is generally regarded as among the most, if not as itself the most, significant Supreme Court decision in United States history.
On April 28, 2004, the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York, assembled, for a group discussion, four former Supreme Court law clerks: John David Fassett, Earl E. Pollock, E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. and Frank E.A. Sander.

Robert H. Jackson at the Nuremberg Trials, 1945-1946

Having been shipped to the European Theatre of War in October 1944 as one of thousands of infantry soldier replacements, Pvt. Moritz Fuchs was sent via Scotland, Omaha Beach and Belgium to the First Infantry Division: the Big Red One. Our 26th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, was fully involved east of Aachen in the Battle of the Huertgen Forest, where I was wounded on November 19th. Our whole squad was wiped out that day. Whitey Swarthout, our platoon leader who had been with the 1st Division since the African Campaign, was due for a prized thirty-day leave when he became the first soldier I saw get killed. Deadly shrapnel from the German 88 millimeter guns burst in the pine trees, spraying all over the ground.

Brown v. Board of Education II Law Clerks Roundtable

Here is the transcript of the May 18, 2005 roundtable discussion at the Jackson Center of Supreme Court law clerks Gordon B. Davidson, Daniel J. Meador, Earl E. Pollock, and E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., who served on the Court at the time of the Brown II decision in 1955, moderated and introduced by John Q. Barrett. Although Robert H. Jackson died before the Brown II decision, his last law clerk, E. Barrett Prettyman continued to clerk for John Marshall Harlan, who succeeded Jackson on the Court. With the phrase "with all deliberate speed," Brown II dictated how the unanimous anti-segregation Brown I decision from the year before was to be implemented. Brown I was the last case that Robert H. Jackson was involved in before his death on October 9, 1954.

The Legacy of Robert H. Jackson

Robert H. Jackson was a country lawyer from upstate New York who rose to be an international advocate of distinguished accomplishment. He became one of the most famous trial lawyers in the Jamestown (N.Y.) area. As a young man he did not have the benefit of a college degree, but he did attend Albany Law School, which granted him a certificate in 1912. He was, without question, one of the most distinguished members of the United States Supreme Court and was one of the finest writers on the Court. He was also witty and wrote many witticisms which are still quoted by the Court.

Robert Jackson’s Transcendent Influence Over Today’s World

Today we are seeing the birth of a new international institution that will deal with problems that have plagued mankind since the beginning of recorded human history. The institution is the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose birth may be recorded as March 11, 2003, when the judges for the new Court were sworn in. I was there for the swearing in ceremony, which was carried out in good taste and with a sense of historic importance.

That Baby: Justice Jackson’s Writings About a Grandchild, and Vice Versa

As Justice Jackson's (Grampa's) oldest grandchild (born in March 1946), I was able to observe him from a perspective that most people did notófrom a crib, or from under the dining table, for example. Seriously, my younger brother Bob and I were fortunate to spend a good bit of time with him, and at his Hickory Hill home in McLean, Virginia, because my family lived nearby from 1949 until his death in October 1954. Of course, he was the chief inspiration for my legal career.

The Genial Justice: Robert H. Jackson

Robert H. Jackson was a distinguished Supreme Court justice, but he also possessed an irreverent wit and contagious charm. These human and personal attributes inspired fond and enduring respect among those who had the good fortune to know him or to work for him as a law clerk.

The Twinkle in His Eyes

Robert H. Jackson will undoubtedly be remembered in history as a founder of International Law. I will always remember him as a kind, gentle man with twinkling eyes. I was fortunate enough to meet a personnel director on her way to lunch who was thinking about how she could find a capable secretary. She needed someone who would be available within a week to accompany the first contingent of Justice Jacksonís staff, who were leaving for England, to prepare cases against the major German War Criminals.

Robert H. Jackson: Nuremberg’s Architect and Advocate

It is a great privilege for me to join in this celebration of the life of Robert H. Jackson. I have this privilege because I served under Justice Jackson, the United States Chief Prosecutor for the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (IMT or Tribunal), in 1945-46. So much has been written about his service as chief prosecutor that I can attempt no more than to remind you of his approach to Nuremberg and his priorities for his work there. Since that work was addressed in part to posterity it is useful, from time to time, to recall Jackson's accomplishments and aspirations at that trial.