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 not--from 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.

Robert H. Jackson: Head of State?

Robert H. Jackson would have made an interesting President. Some might disagree principally because of his disposition to work alone on many matters but F.D.R. himself had a secretive side to him, and it did not hinder his effectiveness. Jackson would have been a strong head of state because his affable personality would have made him the type of leader that subordinates would have been eager to emulate and because he was a thoroughly practical man. He would have understood all the nuances of the problems he faced and the solutions that would or would not have worked to solve them.

For Me, Robert H. Jackson is Alive

As one without a law degree and with no credentials as a historian, it is a great honor for me to pay a layman's tribute to the most eminent alumnus of the Albany Law School: Robert H. Jackson. He is justly famous as one of the most eloquent Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, but perhaps no judicial comments have ever equaled his opening and closing statements at the Nuremberg trials. His determination to make those trials reflect our highest principles of justice and morality is incomparable. Robert Jackson has been gone for fifty years, but his legacy lives on. With new and different war crimes trials on the front pages of every newspaper, Jacksonís legacy takes on ever more powerful meaning.

The Nuremberg Roles of Justice Robert H. Jackson

It is an honor to be at this conference, and especially on this panel, with heroes. “Heroes” is not too strong a word. My friends Whitney Harris, Henry King and Benjamin Ferencz, who are present here, and other senior Nuremberg prosecutors such as Justice Benjamin Kaplan and Professor Bernard Meltzer who are not at this conference, are among my own heroes, but that is a personal point. Their general, permanent significance includes the fact that they are heroes of the law for what they did sixty years ago and have done ever since to develop the law and legacy of Nuremberg.