Monthly Archives: November 2016

Jackson List: An Invitation to Join in Thanksgiving (1941)

In war-besieged London in September 1940, Harold Laski, a professor at the London School of Economics and a leading Socialist party official, thinker, and writer, penned a letter to Robert H. Jackson, Attorney General of the United States.  Laski knew Jackson through their mutual friend, U.S. Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter.  Laski wrote Jackson to introduce another friend, Professor Hersch Lauterpacht of the University of Cambridge:

15.ix.40

My dear Jackson,

I should like to introduce to you my

friend Professor H. Lauterpacht, the Whewell

Professor of International Law at Cambridge.

You well know of his outstanding work in

his own field.  I should like only to add

that there are few people for whom I care so

much.

I think we stand up well to our siege; and

we have complete confidence in the outcome.

Few things will help so much as a third term [for President Franklin D. Roosevelt].

                                    Yours very sincerely,

                                    Harold J. Laski

The Hon. Robert Jackson.

     Attorney-General’s Office.

          Washington. D.C.

Laski wrote his letter not to be mailed, but for Lauterpacht, who was spending Fall 1940 in the U.S., to use when he had an opportunity to introduce himself to Jackson.

That moment arrived at the end of the year.  On December 23rd, Lauterpacht, living in the Bronx, wrote to Jackson in Washington to request a meeting:

            Trinity College,

               Cambridge.

              [crossed out]

                                    5444 Arlington

                                                Avenue

                                    Riverdale on Hudson

                                         New York City

Dear Mr. Attorney-General,

I hope to be in Washington

between January 6-9, prior to my

departure for England.  If you

can spare the time, I should

very much appreciate an oppor-

tunity of calling on you

and paying my respects.

            I enclose a letter of introduction

from Professor Laski.

                                    Yours very truly,

                                    H. Lauterpacht

The Hon. Robert Jackson.

     Attorney-General’s Office.

          Washington. D.C.

Lauterpacht’s letter, with the enclosed vouching letter from Laski, worked.  Jackson wrote back promptly, telling Lauterpacht to contact Jackson’s secretary to schedule the meeting.

Robert Jackson and Hersch Lauterpacht met at the U.S. Department of Justice on January 8, 1941.  They discussed Nazi Germany’s bombing attacks on the United Kingdom, U.S. military assistance to the U.K., and domestic and international law issues.  And obviously they hit it off.

Over the next week, Lauterpacht stayed in downtown Washington and, at Jackson’s request, wrote him a thorough memorandum on international law issues.  It addressed, in twenty-one pages, what Jackson had described in their first meeting as “the philosophy, in international law, of the policy of aiding the [anti-Nazi U.S.] Allies by all means short of war.”  Lauterpacht sent the memorandum to Jackson on January 15th, and then they met the next day to discuss it.

Lauterpacht argued, then and later, that Nazi Germany’s military aggression, on the European continent and against the U.K., violated international law embodied in its own and in many nations’ treaty commitments.  These arguments fit with and advanced Jackson’s own legal thinking.  In the months ahead, Lauterpacht’s input contributed to some of Attorney General Jackson’s and then Justice Jackson’s—he joined the U.S. Supreme Court in July 1941—major public addresses attacking Nazi lawlessness.

And more than four years later, in circumstances that neither Jackson nor Lauterpacht could have envisioned when they first met in Washington, they worked together, in the U.K. and then in Nuremberg in the Allied-occupied former Germany, to hold Nazi leaders accountable for their illegal war-waging.

*          *          *

Justice Jackson and Professor Lauterpacht corresponded during the World War II years.  They also saw each other occasionally, when Lauterpacht was visiting the U.S.

One such occasion was November 19, 1941, seventy-five years ago, when Lauterpacht visited Justice Jackson at the Supreme Court.  Jackson asked Lauterpacht to stay over in Washington on that Wednesday night, and to join Jackson and his wife Irene the next day for Thanksgiving dinner at their home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Virginia—“It will give Mrs. Jackson and me great pleasure if you will have dinner with us,” Jackson wrote when he communicated this invitation a few days beforehand, as he and Lauterpacht were finalizing their plans.

Alas, and to Lauterpacht’s regret, he could not accept this invitation.

He and Jackson did have later occasions to share meals, and to give thanks, including in Nuremberg.

—————–

This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

A Place on the Raft

Last May, the Federal Reserve Board published a comprehensive Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015.  The report, based on extensive survey data, portrays many who financially are doing okay or better, and many who are not.

A highlighted statistic that startles:  46% of adults could not cover a $400 emergency expense without selling something or borrowing some money.  (Hat tip to New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson for remembering and writing yesterday how startling these data still are.)

The Fed report sits alongside U.S. Census Bureau data showing that household incomes grew significantly in 2015.

These data are not inconsistent—“doing better” can be a recent, good turn in a life of “still struggling.”

I am pretty sure that many people in the U.S. voted last week for a candidate who as president would, they hoped, improve their circumstances.  And I suspect that those voters—some for Clinton, some for Trump, and some for fringe candidates—add up to a very large number.

I hope that their votes all get counted, and that they win.  In a decent society, the project of all, including government, should be to insure that every person has basic security—a place on the raft.

private-swim-raft-for-your-enjoyment

Will We Count All the Votes?

Yesterday morning, I asked, “Is Hillary Clinton is the U.S. President-Elect?”

My question was based on three things:

  • As we have known since last Tuesday night, the outcomes of the especially close popular votes in Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will, when translated into electoral votes, determine who is elected president when the electors vote next month.
  • I (still) can’t find any government announcements or news reports that all of the votes in each of those States have been counted, or that they will be counted.
  • I think that the public should be discussing the value of recounting votes in those States, to be sure that their electoral votes are awarded to the correct candidate, the one whom the voters actually chose.

On this Sunday morning, Clinton is leading in the national reported popular vote by about 570,000 votes, which is up from about 400,000 that had been counted and reported as of yesterday.  That still is irrelevant, because electoral votes make a president.

But the popular vote in each State is very relevant, because each State awards its electoral votes to the winner of its popular vote.

Right now, based on reported popular votes in each State, Trump has 290 electoral votes and Clinton has 228.

That means that if final popular vote totals were to favor Clinton in only two States, Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes), Trump would drop below 270.

That also means that if Clinton were determined to have won the popular votes in two more States, Michigan (16 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes), she would have 278 electoral votes, and the presidency.

Here is the latest on the votes in these four key States—

  • Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) has been declared, based on state officials having reported 99% of the vote, for Trump—he leads by about 68,000 votes, out of about 5.7 million.
  • Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) has been declared, based state officials having reported 100% of the vote, for Trump—he leads by about 27,000 votes, out of about 2.8 million.
  • Michigan (16 electoral votes) has not yet been declared, despite state officials having reported 100% of the vote. Trump leads there by about 12,000 votes, out of about 4.5 million.
  • New Hampshire (4 electoral votes) has not yet been declared, despite state officials having reported 100% of the vote. Clinton leads there by about 2,500 votes, out of about 700,000.

So I’m still asking:

Have all the votes in each State been counted?

And are these races so close that the votes in each should be recounted, while we have time to get this right?

Is Hillary Clinton the U.S. President-Elect?

On this Saturday morning, three days since Hillary Clinton conceded the presidential election:

  • Clinton has a counted vote lead in the nationwide popular vote of about 400,000. That does not matter because, of course, we choose presidents by electors.
  • Each State determines its electors, however, based on the popular vote in the State.
  • Based on current popular vote totals translated into electors, Donald Trump has 290 electoral votes—20 more than the total needed to become president—and Clinton has 228.
  • Two States, Michigan (16 electoral votes) and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes), have not been decided—those vote counts are ongoing.

So how close to completed, or not, are the popular vote counts in States, and especially in the States that are apparently very close and definitely are/will be decisive?

For example, in Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), awarded to Trump by the media and color-coded maps we’ve all seen, Trump leads by about 69,000 votes out of about 5.8 million cast.  Have all Pennsylvania votes in fact been counted?  If not, will they be?  If so (and if when), is the margin so close that we—Clinton, yes, and also Trump, and also all of the people in the United States—have an interest to recount, to be sure we know who the voters chose?

And also Wisconsin.  Its 10 electoral votes also have been awarded to Trump.  The reported vote margin in Wisconsin is about 27,000 votes, out of more than 2.8 million votes counted.  Have all the Wisconsin votes been counted?  And is the race so close that they should be recounted?

If a majority of voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, she is President-elect, even if New Hampshire voters chose Trump.  Or she should be.

Shouldn’t we figure that out?

Why aren’t people asking these questions?

Jackson List: Voting for the Last Time (1940)

In early 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was planning, at least to some degree, to return to private life after two terms in office.  Robert H. Jackson was F.D.R.’s newly-appointed United States Attorney General.  Jackson also was, according to private remarks by the President and many New Dealers, and thus according to many press reports that were trial balloons, F.D.R.’s choice to succeed him as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, and then in the White House.

Events took other courses.  Many, including very publicly Jackson, urged Roosevelt to seek a third term.  In springtime, Nazi Germany invaded and soon conquered the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.  In late June, the Republican Party nominated businessman Wendell Willkie as its presidential candidate.  In July, the Democrats nominated, again, Roosevelt.

That fall, Attorney General Jackson took numerous short trips away from his Washington work to campaign actively—as was legally permitted then—for the President and other Democratic candidates.  In early October, for example, Jackson spoke to a large crowd in Buffalo, New York, once his home.  In this speech, Jackson decried Willkie’s phoniness, noting that “only when he talked to workmen did he find profanity and vulgarity in order,” which lost him “any opportunity he ever had to create anything like unity among the American people.”  In mid-October, Jackson gave a law and politics address in Boston.  Later that month he travelled to Jamestown, New York, his adult hometown, to speak alongside U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner (NY) at a large Democratic Party rally.  Jackson also spoke that month in Richmond, Virginia, and a number of times from Washington on nationwide radio broadcasts.  In the first days of November, Jackson travelled back to New York State to give political speeches in Binghamton and in Yonkers.

And then, finally, it was time to vote.  On Monday, November 4, 1940, Robert and Irene Jackson travelled from Washington, where they lived in a rented Wardman Park apartment, to Jamestown, where they still owned a house and were registered to vote.  They voted in Jamestown on Tuesday, November 5, 1940—both for Roosevelt and his running mate Henry Wallace, I’m sure.

In Jamestown at that time, Democrats such as the Jacksons were a political minority and usually their candidates lost.  That was true in 1940.  Willkie carried Jamestown by over 1,500 votes, and he won all of Chautauqua County, where Jamestown is located.  Indeed, Republicans across the county won every race.

But that was not true statewide.  Although the race was tight, Roosevelt carried New York State, his home, with 50.5% of the vote.

Nationwide, the race was not so close.  F.D.R. won 54.7% of the popular vote, to Willkie’s 44.8%.  Overall, Roosevelt carried 38 of the 48 States.  He was reelected with 449 electoral votes to Willkie’s 82.

In the new year, President Roosevelt was inaugurated, beginning his unprecedented third term.

Wendell Willkie, to his great credit, went to work for President Roosevelt as an international emissary and adviser.

In July 1941, Robert Jackson also took on a new government position—he was appointed by Roosevelt and confirmed by the Senate to serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and thus he resigned his position as Attorney General.

Justice Jackson of course cast many, many votes in the Supreme Court’s conference room, on cases, petitions, and other judicial matters.

But he never again entered a voting booth.  In his view, holding judicial office was a responsibility not to be involved in politics, even at the private level of voting.

—————–

This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Election Eves:  A Memory and a Prediction

I remember walking, 36 years ago, through the main gates onto Georgetown University’s campus.  I was a student then, probably carrying too many books.  The day was beautiful—sunny and crisp.  The next day was Election Day.  I could feel, and the press made clear, that voters were deciding late, many out of stoked fears and both grounded concerns (e.g., about economic conditions) and unfounded perceptions (e.g., that the government was doing nothing to free U.S. citizens held hostage in Iran), moving toward what became Ronald Reagan’s victory over President Carter.

This morning I walked through the main gates onto St. John’s University’s campus.  I work there, and I definitely was carrying too many books.  This day is beautiful—sunny and crisp.  Tomorrow is Election Day.  I believe I can feel, and the “press” (now paper plus everything else) is making it clear that a distinct majority of voters is rejecting attempts to stoke fears and voting instead on grounded information and accurate perceptions.

With respect, “Morning in America” was a 1980s slogan that did not describe what happened too much to too many Americans in that decade.

Today is a brighter morning in America, as the past eight years generally have been.  And I look forward to tomorrow’s morning, and even more to Wednesday’s.