Monthly Archives: December 2016

Jackson List:  Departed Friends, Remembered

The events of 2016 included, sadly, departures of special friends.  The five who are highlighted here were connected directly to the life, work, and major legacies of Justice Robert H. Jackson.  These people had great smarts, class, and charm.  Their lives were filled with selfless accomplishments.  Luckily, they have left us with powerful examples, including in various filmed moments.  They were:

  • Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, Chief Judge of the State of New York, and a member of the Robert H. Jackson Center board—click here for Chief Judge Kaye, in 2001, speaking at Chautauqua Institution;
  • Bennett Boskey, a law clerk to, successively, Judge Learned Hand, Justice Stanley Reed, and Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, and later a leading Washington, D.C., lawyer and legal profession giant, including in the councils of the American Law Institute—click here for Boskey, in 2006, on Stone;
  • Phil Neal, Justice Jackson’s law clerk during 1943-45 and, later, a law professor at Stanford University, law school dean at the University of Chicago, and a leading Chicago lawyer—click here for Neal, in 2002, on Jackson;
  • Gwendoline Heron Niebergall, a native of the United Kingdom, whose post-World War II work took her to Nuremberg, to service on Justice Jackson’s Office of Chief of Counsel prosecution staff there, and to, among other things, presence in the center of one of history’s famous photographs—click here for Niebergall, in 2010, on Nuremberg; and
  • Barrett Prettyman, Jr., Justice Jackson’s law clerk at the Supreme Court of the United States during 1953-54—Jackson’s final law clerk—and, later, a leading lawyer in Washington, a premier advocate before the Supreme Court, and a Jackson Center board member—click here for Prettyman, in 2012, on his heroes.

Memories of these people are treasures, for the year ahead and much, much longer.

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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.

 

Respecting Respectful Janet Reno (1938-2016)

The New York Times Magazine, in its December 25th annual selection of “The Lives They Lived,” highlighted dozens of this year’s departed.

Among all the greats remembered there, only one, Janet Reno, was the subject of two reports.

One showed her rough-hewn Florida bedroom, photographed shortly after her death on the eve of Election Day last month.

The other remembered her during her 2002 near-miss campaign for Governor of Florida, two years after she had finished serving for nearly eight years as Attorney General of the United States.

In 1993 and 1994, as a Main Justice lawyer, I got to see AG Reno in action in a few big-crowd meetings.  She was decency personified, attentive to detail, and concerned only that she and everyone in the Department of Justice was doing their jobs well.

And she was charmingly not hip.  For example, at one of those meetings, held around the time when “dissing” became a word and a thing, the AG began to state her disagreement with someone’s point as follows:  “I don’t want to be ‘dis,’ but…”  (The room then froze for a second, and then exploded in laughter.  The AG, puzzled but knowing she’d said something funny, joined in.)

Janet Reno wasn’t “dis.”  She was exactly, authentically, entirely the opposite.  And her personal goodness moved and lifted people, including throughout the Department of Justice—she led the excellent people of federal law enforcement to do better, including in some hard passages, than they would have without her to follow.

Public life, in Florida and nationally, was better for it.

 

Hillary Clinton Should Run for President

In eight days, on Monday, December 19th, electors will meet in each state capital.  They will cast their votes for the next President of the United States.  Each elector also will vote, separately, for the next Vice President.  The electors’ votes in each State then will be added up to determine nationwide totals.  In each race, the candidate who receives 270 or more electoral votes will win the office.

Each State’s law provides that its electors shall vote based on popular voting in that State.  At this time, popular vote counts indicate that Donald Trump is entitled to 306 electoral votes, and that Hillary Clinton is entitled to 232 electoral votes.  Although some States are still completing their initial counts of absentee, military, provisional, and other ballots, and although a few States are recounting votes, it is not expected that the popular vote winner in any State will change.  Thus while Clinton won the national popular vote by over 2.6 million votes (at present count), 48.2% for Clinton to 46.3% for Trump, he won enough States to earn more than 270 electoral votes, if each elector votes based on his or her State’s popular vote.

Trump will be elected president, however, only if a sufficient number of electors do cast their ballots for him.

The Electoral College was not created to be an unthinking rubber stamp.  And across U.S. history, some electors have voted other than as-pledged, choosing not to vote for a candidate whom they regarded as unfit for or undeserving of the office.  Indeed, it’s reasonable to assume that most electors across U.S. history have voted not as automatons, but based on reflection and then a personal decision that the candidate to whom the elector was pledged, the candidate who won the popular vote in the elector’s State, was fit to be president or vice president.

For honest, conscientious 2016 electors, which I sincerely assume each of them to be, there are numerous, powerful reasons to think about voting for Clinton, not Trump, including:

  • Most of the voters preferred Clinton;
  • U.S. government intelligence agencies have determined that Russian government espionage helped Trump significantly, including by injecting information into the campaign that depressed Clinton vote totals, especially in States she lost narrowly;
  • Trump’s business dealings, including with foreign governments, pose grave questions of conflict of interest, illegality, and disloyalty to the U.S.; and
  • Trump’s proposed nominees to Cabinet and other high offices include persons whose beliefs and policy commitments run against the best interests of the U.S. and its people.

This week, the week before electors will cast their ballots on December 19th , is the time for these very serious political arguments.

Donald Trump, conducting himself as president-elect, is in effect continuing to argue that the electors should elect him.

For the sake of the country, Hillary Clinton should complete her campaign for president by joining, by rebutting, that argument.  I don’t believe that the odds are in her favor.  But if—

  • if she gives voice, thoughtfully, to all of the issues that now surround who should be the next president;
  • if she explains why she should be chosen and how she would work, in assembling a government and in pursuing policy priorities, to repair wounds and advance the life of every American;
  • if she articulates a “unity, especially now” vision, including how we could get past the anger that her election would cause…

*          *          *

Clinton, in this final week of campaigning, would be doing best her chosen tasks, running for and preparing to be President of the United States.  And she would be doing everything that she could, which is what we reasonably ask of our presidential candidates, to serve and protect a great America.

Thirty-eight electors in States where Trump won the popular vote have the power, personally and legally, to elect Hillary Clinton.

She should seek, with everything she’s got, their votes.

Professor Joseph A. Calamari (1919-2016)

I’m sad to report that my St. John’s University School of Law faculty colleague Joe Calamari died on December 2, 2016, at age 97.

February 27, 2007:  Celebrating Joe’s 88th birthday.

When we became colleagues in 1995, Joe was already retired from full time teaching… except for the fact that he taught actively every semester, was a leading authority on admiralty law, was hugely respected and involved in the admiralty bar in New York City, and was very connected to students and lawyers across their lives and careers.

I learned that Joe was a World War II and a Korean War veteran.

When I began to write about the Nuremberg trials, he stopped by my office to talk about them, smartly.  After a while, he said, gently, “I was there for a day—it was the day Keitel took the stand.”  His claim was true and typically modest.  We pinned down the date:  April 3, 1946.

When Joe finally, really, retired from teaching in 2011, St. John’s admiralty law society honored him at a special dinner, and the society took his name.

April 7, 2011:  Marie & Joe Calamari (and a earlier Joe photo behind them).

It was a great privilege to know him.