Tag Archives: Justice John Paul Stevens

Jackson List: Inaugurations and Change (1949 & 1953)

On the morning of January 20, 1949, Justice Robert H. Jackson and his wife Irene drove in to Washington from their Hickory Hill home in McLean, Virginia.

At the Supreme Court building, they met their friends Floyd Odlum and Jacqueline Cochran (a businessman and a famous aviatrix and businesswoman, respectively), who were visiting from California.  Later, they crossed First Street, Northeast, to the U.S. Capitol.  They sat – separately, Jackson with fellow justices, Irene with Floyd and Jackie – in V.I.P. seats and watched the inauguration of President Harry S. Truman.  Justice Jackson wore a small black cap, custom-made, from Livingston’s, a store in downtown Washington.

In Chicago, a young woman named Betty Stevens was one of many who watched the 1949 presidential inauguration ceremony on television.  She was especially pleased to see two Supreme Court justices, Jackson and Wiley Rutledge, “walking along gaily chatting.”  Her husband, Chicago attorney John Paul Stevens, had clerked for Justice Rutledge a year earlier, and Mrs. Stevens was happy to see that he appeared to “be in excellent health and spirits.”

Nearly four years later, General (ret.) Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected to succeed President Truman.  He, a Republican, would become president after twenty years of presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt, and then Truman) from the Democratic Party.

In late 1952, Jackie Cochran wrote to her friend Bob Jackson.  She asked if she and Floyd could be Jackson’s guests at the impending Eisenhower presidential inauguration.

Jackson, after checking, wrote back to her in late December 1952:

Dear Jackie:

I have inquired of the Marshal [of the Supreme Court] and so far as I can learn we can carry out this year the same program that we did at the last inauguration – which was that you and Floyd came to the Court and we went from here together.  I think that will work out this time, although it may be something different.  You know the slogan, “It’s time for a change,” and they do have to provide this year for two Cabinets and two sets of officers, incoming and outgoing, and two Presidents’ parties, whereas before there was only one.

The Inauguration Day, January 20, 1953, was indeed different.  On that Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court had an official session.  The justices took the bench and admitted attorneys to the Supreme Court bar.  The Court then adjourned to attend, as it had four years earlier, the inauguration as a body.

At the oath-taking ceremony, the Justices, all bare-headed, walked in procession from the Capitol rotunda to the platform, in pairs according to their seniority on the Court.  Justice Jackson walked with Justice William O. Douglas, smiling and talking.

Later that afternoon, the justices returned to the Court and reconvened briefly in official session.  They did not hear oral argument in any of the ten cases they had, the previous day, put on call for January 20th.  They sent “home” the attorneys who were assembled and prepared to argue those cases, putting them over until the next day.

It appears that Jackson was able to arrange for Floyd Odlum and Jackie Cochran to attend President Eisenhower’s 1953 inauguration.

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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.