Tag Archives: Justice Jackson

Jackson List: Judge Jon O. Newman’s Jackson Lecture, Chautauqua Institution, August 16th

I am very pleased to report that the Honorable Jon O. Newman, United States Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will deliver Chautauqua Institution’s 13th annual Robert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States, on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy.

Judge Newman is a giant of the U.S. judiciary.  In 1971, President Nixon appointed Jon Newman to serve as a U.S. District Judge in the District of Connecticut.  In 1979, President Carter elevated Judge Newman to the U.S. Court of Appeals, where he has served since then, including as Chief Judge from 1993-1997.  At the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, Judge Newman received for lifetime judicial achievement the very prestigious Devitt Award.

Judge Newman also had many accomplishments before his judicial career, including:  graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School; a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve; law clerk to Judge George Washington of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren at the Supreme Court; aide to Abraham Ribicoff as Governor of Connecticut, Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, and U.S. Senator; attorney in private practice in Hartford; and U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

Judge Newman’s lecture title will be, “The Supreme Court—Then and Now.”

Chautauqua Institution is a special venue of arts, education, and recreation in western New York State.  Chautauqua was a very significant part of Robert H. Jackson’s life, his broad and self-directed education, his public speaking training and experiences, and his thinking.  (For an earlier Jackson List post on Chautauqua Institution, click here.)

The Jackson Lecture at Chautauqua Institution is a leading annual consideration of the Supreme Court of the United States, on which Justice Robert H. Jackson served from 1941-1954, in the weeks following the completion of the Supreme Court’s annual Term.  Chautauqua’s Jackson Lecturers have been:

  • 2005:  Geoffrey R. Stone, University of Chicago professor;
  • 2006:  Linda Greenhouse, New York Times writer and Yale Law School professor;
  • 2007:  Seth P. Waxman, WilmerHale partner and former Solicitor General of the United States;
  • 2008:  Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer at The New Yorker and CNN senior legal analyst;
  • 2009:  Paul D. Clement, Bancroft PLLC partner and former Solicitor General of the United States;
  • 2010:  Jeff Shesol, historian, communications strategist, and former White House speechwriter;
  • 2011:  Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate;
  • 2012:  Pamela Karlan, Stanford University professor;
  • 2013:  Charles Fried, Harvard University professor and former Solicitor General of the United States;
  • 2014:  Akhil Reed Amar, Yale University professor (click here for video);
  • 2015:  Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard University professor (click here for video); and
  • 2016:  Tracey L. Meares, Yale University professor (click here for video).

For further information on Judge Newman’s upcoming lecture, click here.

*             *             *

Judge Newman’s Jackson Lecture will culminate, at Chautauqua Institution this summer, extensive, expert consideration of the U.S. Supreme Court.

During Chautauqua’s Week Five (July 24-28), the Amphitheater lecture theme will be “The Supreme Court: At a Tipping Point?”  The 10:45 a.m. lecturers will be:

  • July 24:  Linda Greenhouse;
  • July 25:  Annette Gordon-Reed;
  • July 26:  Jeffrey Rosen;
  • July 27:  Akhil Reed Amar; and
  • July 28:  Theodore B. Olson.

The afternoon programs that week will feature the following lecturers, focusing on judicial lives and biography:

  • July 24:  Linda Greenhouse, on Chief Justice Warren E. Burger;
  • July 25:  Annette Gordon-Reed & Peter Onuf, on Chief Justice John Marshall;
  • July 26:  Jeffrey Rosen, on Justice Louis D. Brandeis; and
  • July 28:  John Q. Barrett, on Justice Robert H. Jackson & His Brethren.

For further information on all of this programming, to buy tickets, etc., please visit Chautauqua Institution’s website (click here).

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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.

Jackson List: Supreme Court “Opinion Dumping,” 1950 & Today

On Monday, June 5, 1950, the last day of its 1949-50 term, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its judgments and released written opinions in seventeen cases.  The Court then began its summer recess.  The public, beginning with the daily press, struggled to read and absorb such a quantity of Court decisions.

A week later, the Washington Post editorialized against what it called the Supreme Court’s end-of-term practice of “Judicial Dumping”:

Our courts have been notoriously backward in their public relations, and in none of them is this failing more conspicuous than in the Supreme Court of the United States.  Last week, for example, that high tribunal dumped 18 [sic] opinions into the lap of bewildered newspaper and radio reporters.  Some of these opinions were of great importance….  It was utterly impossible for the newsmen to read and digest so many opinions in so few hours, and if they could have done so most newspapers would have had great difficulty in giving adequate coverage to so large an output.

Such a heavy accumulation of cases usually occurs only at the end of the term.  But that is serious enough, for the justices have a habit of putting off until the last opinion day some of the most troublesome and important cases.  The result is that some momentous decisions go almost unnoticed by the public.  Perhaps it is of no concern to the court whether its output is properly communicated to the people.  Yet we do not see how any body in a democratic land could take such an attitude, and this seems to apply especially to the Supreme Court, which, lacking both purse and sword, is dependent upon the acceptance of its rulings by public opinion.

Even at the cost of some inconvenience to itself, we should think the court would abandon its dumping practice and regulate the flow of its opinions to the public more evenly.  It is difficult to see how any harm could be done by such a policy, and it would certainly facilitate understanding of the court and its opinions on the part of the public.

When the next Supreme Court term began in October 1950, the Post continued to make this argument.  Chalmers M. Roberts, a legendary Post reporter, privately surveyed his Supreme Court press corps colleagues and then reported their unanimous view that the Court should assist press and public understanding by “spreading the opinions over the entire week instead of dumping them all on Monday.”

The Supreme Court has, over time, to some degree, listened.  It now hands down decisions on multiple days of some weeks, especially toward the end of its term.  In the current month, for example, as this Court term headed to its end, the Justices announced decisions on six separate days, including three days last week.

But some Court work, like all human work, gets done against a final deadline, even if it is one that is self-imposed.  Each Court term will have a final “opinion day.”  And sometimes, such as today, it will be a Monday.

The Supreme Court today completed its scheduled work for the 2016-17 term.  It announced judgments and released opinions in three cases that had been argued in April.  It also vacated the lower court judgment in another case and sent it back for reconsideration in light of a major Court decision (Ziglar v. Abbasi—see below) that was announced last week.  The Court put two other cases, in which it had heard oral arguments last winter as an eight-justice Court, before Justice Gorsuch’s appointment, over for reargument next Fall.  And in two cases challenging President Trump’s “travel ban” executive order, the Court granted in part and denied in part the President’s request to stay lower court orders enjoining the executive order, and it ordered the parties to file briefs on a schedule that will permit the Court to hear oral arguments in the cases next October.

That is—today’s decisions are—a lot to digest.  As the justices prepare to relax, work on cases ahead, travel, and teach during their summer recess, the rest of us will work to catch up.  (For the decisions of the just-completed term, click here, and for orders, including some accompanied by opinions, click here.)

The Supreme Court’s latest decisions include many of legal significance and general public interest.  For students of Justice Robert H. Jackson’s career, one recent decision to note is Ziglar v. Abbasi (click here), where the Court, by a vote of 4-2, dismissed claims against federal officials who were accused of responsibility for the severe mistreatment of Middle Eastern men who were in the U.S. illegally at the time of the 9/11 attacks and were detained for immigration violations.  In his Ziglar v. Abbasi dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, quoted two of Justice Jackson’s most striking and enduring metaphors, and cautions:  that the Constitution should not be misinterpreted as a “suicide pact” (from Jackson’s dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. United States (1949)), and that mistakenly broad views of executive power under the Constitution can lie about “like a loaded weapon”…. (from Jackson’s dissent in Korematsu v. United States (1944)).

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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.

Jackson List: Lawful, Political, Deplorable Senatorial Behavior (1954)

This post, edited a little bit and enhanced with footnotes and photographs of John M. Harlan and the Supreme Court in 1955, now is on the Jackson List archive site in PDF file form.

Jackson List: Alma Soller McLay (1920-2017), Nuremberger

This post, including two December 1945 photographs of Alma Soller in Nuremberg, now is on the Jackson List archive site in PDF file form.

Jackson List: Judge Gorsuch’s Admiration for Justice Jackson’s Writing … and Justice White, Dubitante

 

This post, edited a little bit and enhanced with a couple of citation footnotes and a *great* 1946 photograph of Byron White as a U.S. Supreme Court law clerk, now is on the Jackson List archive site in PDF file form.

Jackson List: 125th Birthday

Tomorrow, February 13, 2017, will mark the quasquicentennial of Robert Houghwout Jackson’s 1892 birth, in his family’s farmhouse in Spring Creek Township, Warren County, Pennsylvania.

For your Jackson Birthday reading, here are some previous Jackson Birthday-related posts:

These and many more posts are on the Jackson List archive site, which is word-searchable and, using quotation marks, phrase-searchable:  http://thejacksonlist.com/.

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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.

Jackson List: Justices & the World Series

For the Jackson List:

United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a Chicago native, has been rooting for the Chicago Cubs almost since they last won a World Series—that was in 1908, just twelve years before Stevens was born.

As Justice Stevens explained in a great interview posted on SCOTUSblog this morning (click here), he has seen many Cubs baseball games in Wrigley Field.  On October 1, 1932, for example, he attended the third game of that year’s World Series and witnessed Babe Ruth’s famous “called shot” home run … and thus saw the New York Yankees beat the Cubs, 7-5, on their way to sweeping that World Series.

On that day in 1932, a man named James M. Marsh, age nineteen, was listening to that game on the radio in western Pennsylvania and keeping score in his scorebook.  Fifteen years later, Jim Marsh was clerking for Justice Robert H. Jackson at the Supreme Court.  Marsh became a close friend of John Stevens, who was clerking then for Justice Wiley Rutledge.  Marsh learned of Stevens’s love for the Cubs, and that he had seen Babe Ruth hit the called shot.  In time, Marsh located his 1932 scorecard and gave it to Stevens.  Justice Stevens then displayed it on the wall of his Supreme Court chambers.

In contrast to Stevens and Marsh (and many of us), Justice Robert H. Jackson was no baseball fan.  In 1951, for example, when Major League Baseball had leadership troubles and Jackson was reported to be under consideration to become its next commissioner, he found the idea distasteful.

In summer 1950, as Jackson was preparing to take a cross-country train trip with his friend Harrison Tweed, a leading New York City lawyer, and he wrote Jackson to suggest that they see a baseball game on a layover day in Chicago, Jackson wrote back immediately, voting no:

Personally, I don’t care much about baseball and haven’t seen a game in a good many years.  Why don’t we take our chances on what we can do during the day[?]  Maybe some good friend like [Chicago lawyer] Tap Gregory will come to our rescue.  I may get in touch with him.

Two summers early, indeed while Jim Marsh was beginning his second year as Jackson’s law clerk, Jackson commented privately, and not approvingly, that Babe Ruth’s death had garnered more news attention than had the death of Tweed’s law partner Walter Hope.  (Really.)

But Justice Jackson did have a near-brush with the Chicago Cubs, and, indeed, with the Cubs in the World Series.  In early October 1945, beginning on the 6th of the month, Jackson was working in Berlin, in preparation for the impending prosecution of Nazi war criminals that he would be leading in Nuremberg.  Jackson kept busy during the next four days with numerous meetings, some social occasions, and his own work.  But really he was waiting for U.S. and other nations’ judges to arrive in Berlin so that the International Military Tribunal could hold its first session there (in the Soviet zone of military occupation), formally receiving the prosecutors’ indictment of the defendants, before adjourning to Nuremberg (in the U.S. zone) to conduct the trial.

By October 10, 1945, Jackson, knowing that he had much work to do in Nuremberg, was fed up with waiting around in Berlin.  He left two of his deputies to continue the work there.  Jackson had command of a military plane, and he ordered it to fly him and some of his team that evening to Nuremberg.

During the flight, Justice Jackson stayed in his seating area on the plane, I am sure.  But others, including his son and executive assistant Bill Jackson, crowded around the cockpit.  They managed to listen there to a radio broadcast of the final game of the World Series, which was being played in Wrigley Field.  (Alas for Cubs fans such as then-first year law student John Paul Stevens, just back in Chicago and civilian life after four years of wartime service in the U.S. Navy, the Detroit Tigers won that World Series game seven, beating the Chicago Cubs, 9-3, and thus the Series.)

In 2016, the long wait of Justice Stevens and all Cubs fans for a World Series championship is compelling.

It bears at least passing note, however, that another Justice, Harold H. Burton (1888-1964), would be rooting the other way.  Justice Burton was colleague of Justice Jackson and Justice Rutledge on the Court, and Burton was everyone’s model of judicial diligence and fairness.  Harold Burton had served as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, from 1935 until 1940.  He then became a U.S. Senator from Ohio, serving from 1941 until he resigned following his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Justice Burton was commissioned a Supreme Court justice on September 22, 1945.

That autumn, seventy-one years ago, was only three years before the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs’ opponent this year, won their most recent World Series.

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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.

Jackson List: Wedding in Cold Spring Harbor (1944)

On this date in 1944, Ensign William Eldred Jackson (United States Navy Reserve), age 25, and Nancy-Dabney Roosevelt, age 21, married in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York.

The wedding, occurring on a Sunday night during wartime, was not a large affair.  The couple married in St. John’s Church, located near the Turkey Lane home of Nancy’s parents, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald B. Roosevelt (U.S. Army) and Grace Lockwood Roosevelt.  Lt. Col. Roosevelt had been in active military service, and seriously wounded, in the Pacific Theater.  That September, he somehow made it home, quite ill, only shortly before the wedding.

Cold Spring Harbor is a bit west of Oyster Bay, a town that was a childhood home of Archie, his siblings and his parents.  His father, Colonel (and also President of the United States) Theodore Roosevelt, had died in 1919, a few years before Nancy’s birth.  In 1944, her grandmother, former First Lady Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, age 83, was still living in her home, Sagamore Hill, and she was a beaming wedding guest.

So were Bill Jackson’s parents, Justice Robert H. Jackson and Irene Jackson.  Travelling north from Virginia, they attended the wedding and then the reception dinner that followed at the home of Archie and Grace.

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The Reverend Albert Lucas of St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., Bill’s alma mater, officiated at the wedding.  Nancy was attended by her sisters and others.  Bill’s best man was his father, Robert Jackson.  Reverend Lucas remembered, years later, what a “tribute”—I believe in both directions, son-to-father and father-to-son—“that conveyed to all present at the ceremony.”

Bill and Nancy were married for fifty-five years, until his death in 1999, and she died in 2010.  I was lucky to know each of them, and to benefit from their generous friendship.  I still do.  And of course I am thinking of them on this, their anniversary evening.

*          *          *

For a 2003 film clip of Nancy Jackson recalling her father-in-law, whom she adored (you’ll see, and the feeling was very mutual), click here.

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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.

Jackson List: The Justice on Vacation, “Shop Closed” (Summer 1951)

On June 4, 1951, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its final decisions of the term and then began its summer recess.

The most notable decision that day was United States v. Dennis, et al.  The Court, by a 6-2 vote, affirmed the criminal convictions and prison sentences of eleven leaders of the Communist Party of the U.S.A., for conspiring to teach and advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government.

In a related matter, the Court also announced that day that, by the same vote, it would not review United States v. Sacher, et al., the cases of six attorneys who had represented Dennis defendants during their long, contentious 1949 trial in New York City.  Following the trial, the judge had convicted these attorneys of criminal contempt for misconduct during the trial and sentenced them to prison terms.

Justice Robert H. Jackson was one of the six justices who comprised the Dennis and Sacher majorities.

*          *          *

By order of the Chief Justice, Fred M. Vinson, acting pursuant to a federal law, Justice Jackson served as Circuit Justice for the Second Circuit (New York, Connecticut and Vermont).  This meant that during a Supreme Court recess, emergency matters from the Second Circuit would be Jackson’s initial responsibility.  In the Dennis case itself, for example, Jackson as Circuit Justice had the previous September—i.e., during the Court’s 1950 summer recess—granted defendants’ motion for continuation of their bail through the duration of their appeals.

During the Court “recess” weeks of June 1951, Justice Jackson remained mostly in Washington, working in his chambers.  In the Dennis and Sacher cases, the Supreme Court’s mandates—certified copies of its judgments and opinions—were scheduled to issue in late June.  Those actions would formally return the cases to the lower courts for proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court’s judgments.  For defendants in each group, that soon would lead, very predictably, to the trial judge directing them to report to federal prison to begin serving their sentences.

The Dennis and Sacher defendants sought to stay the Court’s issuance of its mandates.  The Dennis defendants, who had filed separately a petition asking the full Court to rehear the case and reconsider the lawfulness of their criminal convictions, sought to stay issuance of the Court’s mandate and continue each defendant’s bail until the Court decided whether to rehear the case.  The Sacher defendants, who also were seeking the full Court’s reconsideration of its decision not to review their convictions, sought to stay issuance of the mandate as well.

Because the full Court was in recess, these matters were presented to the Second Circuit Justice, Robert Jackson.  He heard oral arguments from counsel in his chambers on June 21, 1951.  The next day, he issued his decisions.  In Dennis, Jackson denied the stay request and continuation of bail.  In Sacher, he granted the stay.  Among his reasons:  to insure that the Dennis defendants would have the full assistance of counsel as their cases returned to the trial court and they surrendered for incarceration.

Then, in July 1951, Justice Jackson went on vacation.  He traveled by train from Washington to San Francisco, and from there north to the Bohemian Club’s summer encampment—the Bohemian Grove—in Monte Rio, California.

Jackson first visited the Bohemian Grove in summer 1948 as the guest of San Francisco lawyer Arthur Kent, a close friend and former government colleague.  The next year, the Club elected Jackson to honorary membership, and he returned to the Bohemian Grove every summer for the rest of his life.  The Grove offered two-plus weeks of relaxation, in high-powered and professionally diverse male company, in a setting of great natural beauty.  On July 20th, Jackson described some of this in a letter to his daughter, at her home in McLean, Virginia:

Dear Mary –

Just a note to let you know

I am in the land of the living and feel

fine.  Really never felt better – lots of fruit[,]

swimming, canoeing and walking.

The [Bohemian Grove] program I was to appear

on went over fine.  Quite by accident

I ran upon a yarn by H.L. Mencken

about judges and booze – a most

ably written and amusing story.

With a few side remarks I read it [to the group]

and it seemed to be most acceptable.

            Since I have already told you all that

can be told about this place I simply say

it seems more relaxing than ever before –

probably because I am better acquainted.

I sleep until 8:30 or 9 every morning

and once until 10.  College Presidents

are a dime a dozen [here] and Herbert

Hoover, mellow with age and experience[,]

has been very companionable.  A list

of those who are Who’s Who material

would fill a book.  The weather has

been perfect – hot days and cold

nights.

…Will send a few

post card views just to refresh your

memories on what it is like out

here.

More at some later time.  Love

and good wishes

Dad.

*          *          *

In the Dennis case, following Justice Jackson’s June 22, 1951, denial of the motion for a stay, the Supreme Court’s mandate issued and the defendants were ordered to surrender for incarceration on July 2nd.  Seven of the Communist Party officials did surrender but four (Gus Hall, Henry Winston, Robert Thompson, and Gilbert Green) did not—they jumped bail and became fugitives.

In Manhattan, U.S. District Court Judge Sylvester J. Ryan, to whom the Dennis case was newly assigned because the trial judge had just been appointed to the Court of Appeals, ordered the bail of the four men—$20,000 apiece—forfeited.  Judge Ryan then commenced an inquiry to determine whether any of the bail-providers had information that could lead to the fugitives.

The Dennis defendants had been beneficiaries of a bail bond fund collected and administered by an organization called the Civil Rights Congress.  The U.S. Attorney General, J. Howard McGrath, had designated this organization a Communist subversive front.

Judge Ryan ordered the bail fund trustees to appear in his court and answer questions.  On July 3rd, Frederick Vanderbilt Field, the fund’s secretary, appeared in court but refused, claiming a constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, to name the persons who had provided financial assets for the Congress to use as bail collateral.  On July 5th, Field reiterated this refusal and also refused to produce the bail fund’s books.  The next day, Judge Ryan, determining that Field’s privilege claim was unfound, judged him guilty of criminal contempt and sentenced him to ninety days in prison.

On July 9th, Judge Ryan ordered two more bail fund trustees to testify.  Dashiell Hammett, acclaimed writer of The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon and many other works, was the fund’s chairman.  Dr. W. Alphaeus Hunton, formerly an English professor at Howard University and then a Council on African Affairs official, was another bail fund trustee.  Each refused to answer questions about the bail fund or to produce its records, claiming a constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.  Judge Ryan rejected these claims and, as with Field, convicted Hammett and Hunton of criminal contempt.  The Judge sentenced each to six months in prison.  They promptly were taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.

Field, Hammett and Hunton, through counsel, appealed their convictions and sought bail while their appeals were pending.  After Judge Ryan and then Court of Appeals judge Learned Hand denied bail, the lawyers filed emergency applications for bail at the Supreme Court.  When the lawyers learned from the Court Clerk’s office that the Second Circuit Justice, Jackson, was on vacation in California, the lawyers offered to travel to Jackson and make their arguments there.  Jackson, apprised of this offer, declined to make himself available.  The lawyers, informed of this, then told the Clerk’s office that they would take their applications to Justice Hugo L. Black (who had dissented in Dennis).  The Clerk’s office reported this to Jackson and he passed the information to Chief Justice Vinson, who happened also to be at the Bohemian Grove.

Chief Justice Vinson, not wanting to handle this matter himself, arranged for Justice Stanley Reed to act as Second Circuit Justice in Jackson’s absence and hear the bail applications of Field, Hammett and Hunton.  Justice Reed did so, convening a hearing in his hometown, Maysville, Kentucky, where he was vacationing.

Back at the Bohemian Grove, Justice Jackson on July 24th wrote to his son, daughter-in-law, young granddaughter and wife, together in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.  Jackson described some of how he had ducked, and how Justice Reed now came to be handling, these bail applications:

Dear Bill and Nancy + Miranda

+ Mother: –

….

            I have had a lot of bother with

the Communists trying to reach me

for bail and stays from [Judge] Ryan orders.

I flatly refused to be “available”

when they wanted to fly out here – with

a lot of publicity – to present application.

Then they wanted the cases sent to Black.

I said let them go to the C.J.  Well, he

is up at Joe Davies[’] [Bohemian Grove] camp and didn’t

want any hot stuff so he sent them

to Reed.  I haven’t heard what he

did.  But I suppose they are apt to

renew the effort to get at me

anytime.  Not if I can help it!

On July 25, 1951, Justice Reed denied the Field, Hammett and Hunton applications for bail pending appeal.  He found that Judge Ryan had legal authority to issue bench warrants for the Dennis fugitives, and to call witnesses to execute their judgments of imprisonment.  This was especially true of the bail fund trustees, who by providing bail had become part of the court control process that was responsible for the defendants’ required appearances.  Justice Reed also affirmed that Judge Ryan had legal power to protect court work from obstruction by refusals to answer inquiries, including by holding persons in criminal contempt.  And with regard to the bail fund records, Justice Reed held that the applicants had no constitutional privilege to withhold them, because the records were Civil Rights Congress property that they held as trustees, not their personal records.  Justice Reed held that the refusals to provide the records had been contemptuous, and he affirmed the denials of bail pending appeal.

*          *          *

Justice Jackson continued to vacation, giving some thought to Dennis case-related matters but not handling them.

On July 26th, for example, Jackson, probably unaware of Justice Reed’s decision the previous day, wrote again to his daughter:

Dear Mariska:

            …

Well, it was true that I was being

heckled by all sorts of things from the office.

But I told the Clerk’s office to lay off, that

I am simply not available out here and

someone else could look after the stuff,

that my shop is closed until after Labor Day.

They then tried to switch some of my stuff to

the C.J. but he sidestepped and let it

fall on Reed.  Anyway I’m out from under.

            …

            Am getting a daily swim and sun

bath, walk more miles each day than in

a month at home, sleep 9 hours a night[,]

eat like a horse and am lazy as hell.

Really have not felt better in God knows when.

….   It might be a good thing for you

to change scene a little while….  You seem

to be about the only one in the family who

does not get a vacation.

            Anyway love and good wishes.

                                    Daddy.

A few days later, Justice Jackson, still at the Bohemian Grove, wrote to his colleague and close friend, Justice Felix Frankfurter.  He was vacationing with his wife in Charlemont, Massachusetts.  Jackson’s letter included comments on the “Communist” cases:

Dear Felix :

            We have had [a] wonderful time in this

unique camp.  Soon have to give it

up and go back to the job.  But

anyway I shall do so greatly

refreshed.  I have not been reading the

Dennis record I assure you!  But I

continued their bail (the attys [Sacher, et al.]) so

another look could be taken at it.  I

suppose the Clerk sent you copy of my [June 22nd]

memo on it.  I do not know what, if

anything[,] we should, or can[,] do about

it at this stage.  I will be interested

in your conclusions when all considerations

have been canvassed.

            My best to Marion and

                        As ever

                                    Bob

*          *          *

Justice Jackson remained in northern California through most of August 1951.  His wife joined him there and they traveled around, visiting friends including Jackson’s former law clerk Phil Neal, then a professor at Stanford Law School.  (While at Stanford, Jackson interviewed Neal’s top student, William Rehnquist, for what became his clerkship with Jackson.)  On August 23rd, in San Francisco, Jackson delivered the keynote lecture at the California State Bar Association’s annual convention.

On August 28th, Justice Jackson returned to work in his Supreme Court chambers, preparing for the term that would begin in October.

On October 30th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Ryan’s criminal contempt judgments against Field, Hammett and Hunton.

They sought Supreme Court review, without success—the Court denied their petitions on December 3rd.  Justice Black and Justice William O. Douglas, the Dennis dissenters, noted that they were “of the opinion certiorari should be granted.”

For his crime, Field served two months in prison.

Hammett, receiving credit for good behavior in prison, was incarcerated for 155 days, first in New York City and then in Kentucky.

Hunton also received “good time” credit and served slightly less than his six month sentence.

*          *          *

Some links—

  • Justice Jackson’s September 25, 1950, in chambers opinion, Williamson, et al. v. United States (ordering bail pending appeal for Dennis defendants) – click here (pp. 40-47);
  • United States v. Dennis, et al. (U.S. June 4, 1951), including Jackson’s concurring opinion – click here;
  • Jackson’s June 22, 1951, in chambers opinion, Sacher, et al. v. United Statesclick here (pp. 55-56);
  • Jackson’s June 22, 1951, in chambers opinion, Dennis, et al. v. United Statesclick here (p. 57);
  • Justice Reed’s July 25, 1951, in chambers opinion, Field et al. v. United Statesclick here (pp. 58-66); and
  • A recent essay by Yale Law School professor Stephen L. Carter, Why I Support Dissent: My Great-Uncle Who Wouldn’t Name Names, about W. Alphaeus Hunton – click here.

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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.

Jackson List: Ernest W. Michel (1923-2016), Survivor, Reporter, Teacher & Builder

For the Jackson List:

Of the hundreds of press corps reporters who covered the Nuremberg trial of the principal Nazi war criminals seventy years ago, only one, I believe, had been tattooed by the Nazis.

Ernst Wolfgang Michel, then only twenty-two years old, was an Auschwitz survivor.  On his arrival in that Nazi death camp in 1943, a guard had tattooed a number on Michel’s left forearm.

Three horrifying and miraculous years later, Michel covered the Nuremberg trial as a reporter for the Allied occupation-approved German news agency.  At his insistence, each story he wrote bore this byline:  “By Ernst Michel, DANA Staff Correspondent (Formerly prisoner No. 104995 at Auschwitz concentration camp).”

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Ernst Michel was a German and Jew.

Born in Mannheim in 1923, he lived a happy, comfortable life there until Hitler came to power in 1933.  Michel’s father’s business soon was taken from him—“Aryanized”—for a token payment.  In 1937, Ernst, then in 7th grade, and all Jewish children were barred from public school by government edict.  That ended his schooling.  He went to work in nearby Bruchsal, as an apprentice in a cardboard factory.

On the night of November 9, 1938 (Kristallnacht), Ernst Michel, age fifteen, awakened to see the Bruchsal synagogue, torched by Nazi brownshirts, in flames.  Gestapo agents arrested his employer, a Jew, and seized his factory.  Returning to Mannheim, he found its synagogue destroyed, Nazis swarming the streets, his family’s apartment destroyed, his mother beaten, his father arrested…

In March 1939, Michel’s parents managed to send his younger sister to France.  She later was sheltered in Switzerland and then made it to Palestine—she lived.

In September 1939, the Gestapo arrested Ernst Michel.  He never saw his parents again.  He learned later that the Nazis deported them in spring 1940 to a concentration camp in southern France.  In August 1942, they were transported in cattle cars to Nazi-occupied Poland.  They were murdered on their arrivals at Auschwitz.

Between 1939 and 1945, Ernst Michel survived in Nazi forced labor and concentration camps, including near Berlin, Paderborn, Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, Buchenwald and Berga.  Some particulars:

  • In February 1943, Michel and hundreds of other prisoners were shipped by rail, in cattle cars, to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  • On arrival, a Nazi officer asked Michel his age (which he inflated from nineteen to twenty).  The Nazi pointed Michel into a line to the right.  Trucks then took him and others to squalid barracks and forced labor.  He soon understood that prisoners who had been sorted to the left went directly to the gas chambers.
  • Michel was one of the slave laborers who worked to building the Buna synthetic rubber factory at Auschwitz-Monowitz.
  • In winter cold, with minimal food and beaten severely, he approached death.
  • In desperation, he went to a camp infirmary.  He got some treatment and volunteered to fill out (false) cause-of-death records that the Nazis insistently kept.  Because Michel improbably had some calligraphy skills, he was useful in that task and thus was spared harsher forms of labor.
  • During the next two years, Michel worked as an Auschwitz infirmary orderly.  He survived typhus and other disease.  He witnessed gruesome “experiments” that Dr. Josef Mengele and others performed on prisoners.  Michel carried thousands of bodies to storage, and to trucks which moved them to crematoria.
  • On January 18, 1945, as Soviet troops approached, Michel left Auschwitz after 674 days.  The Nazis marched him and thousands west, to Buchenwald.

In April 1945, as Allied forces closed in on the Third Reich, Ernst Michel and two friends, again on a forced march, escaped into the woods.  After more than five and one-half years as a Nazi prisoner, he was free.

Soon the Nazis surrendered and Michel was a displaced person.  He was restored to some health, mentored, and given the chance to become a journalist.

In late 1945 and into spring 1946, Ernst Michel was in Nuremberg, covering the trial.  He watched the U.S. chief prosecutor, Justice Robert H. Jackson, in action.  Michel met the Soviet chief prosecutor, General Roman Rudenko.  Indeed, Rudenko, learning that Michel had observed Dr. Mengele’s atrocities in Auschwitz, contemplated calling Michel as a trial witness but then explained, apologetically, that he could not—with only one exception, it was Soviet policy to call no trial witness who was a German, regardless of the person’s religion.

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“Ernie” Michel, as he became to all who knew him, went on to live a long, energetic, constructive and generous “second life,” including—

  • During 1945 and 1946, Michel worked in Allied-occupied Germany with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the JDC, or “the Joint”) to assist displaced persons (“DPs”).  Through Joint leaders, Michel learned of its broader history and work, and of the United Jewish Appeal (the UJA, which would become his career), and of a special quota for DPs to emigrate to the U.S.
  • In June 1946, Michel was among the first Jewish DPs to sail for the U.S.  He reached New York, then Chicago, and then (of all places) Port Huron, Michigan, where he got a newspaper job and began to give speeches about his experiences in Germany and during the war.
  • The UJA national office, raising funds for Jewish refugees and to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, soon recruited Michel to speak at appeal events around the country.
  • In 1948, Michel went to work for UJA in California.  He traveled throughout the west, speaking and fundraising.  (He also married and became, in time, a father of three children.)
  • In 1955, he visited Israel for the first time—and, for the first time since she had been smuggled out of Mannheim in 1939, he saw his sister, a fellow survivor and by then an Israeli, a kibbutznik and a mother.
  • In 1958, he moved to New York, joining UJA’s national staff.
  • In 1960, Michel was part of a small group that met in Washington, in the White House oval office, with President Eisenhower—once the supreme Allied commander who had liberated Europe and, Michel felt, himself.  This was the first time that Holocaust survivors were received at the White House.
  • In 1962, Michel returned to UJA work on the West Coast.
  • In 1967, he left UJA, working for the next three years in Paris and throughout Europe on behalf of the Joint.
  • Beginning in 1970, Michel returned to UJA for the rest of his career.  He was chief executive of New York UJA, and then in the leadership of the merged UJA-Federation of New York.  He was a tireless fundraiser for Jews and for Israel, working with government leaders and private individuals.
  • In 1981, he was instrumental in organizing the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, which brought 6,000 people and many of their descendants together in Jerusalem.
  • In 1983, forty years after his first arrival in Auschwitz, Michel led a UJA mission to that place (and then to Israel).
  • In 1988, he led UJA-Federation’s trip to West Germany to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht.  On that occasion, this delegation met in a private setting in Bonn with Richard von Weizsäcker, president of the Federal Republic of Germany (and son of Nazi criminal who had been convicted at Nuremberg).  Michel spoke of his German life and wartime suffering.  Von Weizsäcker listened carefully and then (as Michel later wrote about it) “spoke of his own feelings as a German, about the Nazi period and the fact that Germany would for all time, carry the stigma of those years.  [He r]ecogniz[ed] the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of the Germans, the injustice and persecution, [and] assured [the] group that there would be no forgetting.”

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And a small, personal note:  On May 5th in Poland, I was one of thousands who participated in the March of the Living from Auschwitz (Auschwitz I, the original camp) to Birkenau (Auschwitz II), where trains had delivered Ernst Michel and hundreds of thousands of other prisoners who then were sorted for immediate extermination or sent toward grim, overcrowded, filthy barracks for abuse, slave labor and for most, after not very long, death by starvation, work, disease, torture, hanging, shooting or gas.

In those sites of unimaginable horror, I thought of all victims and very specifically of Ernie Michel, the survivor whom I was lucky to have as a teacher and friend.

I knew then that Ernie, back in New York, was in failing health but at peace, no longer remembering the horrors of war and the suffering he had experienced and seen.  He died two days later.

Ernie Michel’s life, and what he did with all of it, was and is a great, lucky, stirring, inspiring victory.

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Some links—

  • Ernest W. Michel’s 1993 autobiography is Promises to Keep:  One Man’s Journey Against Incredible Odds! Click here — this is a book to get, to read, and to keep.
  • Video of a 2002 interview, in which Ernest Michel described some of his experiences in Auschwitz, his April 1945 escape from Nazi custody during a death march, and as a reporter at the  Nuremberg trial – click here;
  • An Ernest Michel essay, on meeting Hermann Goering at Nuremberg in 1946, excerpted from a speech that Michel gave in Berlin on November 21, 2005 – click here;
  • Video of a 2007 Ernest Michel oral history – click here;
  • A 2010 New York Times profile of Ernest Michel – click here;
  • Video of Michael Stoler’s 2011 “BuildingNY” interview with Ernest Michel – click here; and
  • A May 2016 Jewish Telegraph Agency obituary – click here.

Michel_Ernest

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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.