Tag Archives: Justice Robert H. Jackson

Jackson List:  Commencement, and Cowslip, Season

For the Jackson List:

Robert H. Jackson’s deep ties to Jamestown, New York, the city he came to call his adult hometown, began in 1909.  That June, Jackson, age seventeen, graduated as valedictorian from the high school in Frewsburg, New York.  He lived—he had grown up—in that small, rural hamlet with his parents and two younger sisters.  Frewsburg is located six miles southeast of Jamestown, and it drew Jackson to its opportunities.

In Fall 1909, Robert Jackson began to commute from Frewsburg to Jamestown by streetcar.  He enrolled as a post-graduate student at Jamestown High School—it was, for him, a second senior year of high school.  At JHS, Jackson found some very strong and special teachers (who of course deserve credit for finding him).  They took deep interests in cultivating his talents and, in effect, devising tutorial programs for his special studies in literature, history, and economics.

One of Jackson’s two crucial, life-launching teachers at Jamestown High School was Miss Mary R. Willard, age 53, who taught English.  She lived near the school with her sister Miss Vesta Willard, age 47, who was a teacher at the elementary school.

Robert Jackson soon became the Willard sisters’ shared protégé.  He became, after school and often long into the evening, a member of their literary reading groups, their music listening groups, and their discussions with each other and many friends in the community.  He became a colleague in their environmental activism, including their fundraising to acquire for Jamestown, as a public preserve, a wild and beautiful “100 Acre Lot” on the edge of town.  In time, Robert became a regular dinner guest and sometimes an overnight guest in the Willard home, which the sisters nicknamed “Bohemia.”  To Jackson, then and for the rest of their lives, the Willard sisters were family—in effect, they were his second and third mothers.

Following Jackson’s June 1910 graduation from Jamestown High School, he did not go to college.  Instead, he stayed in Jamestown and became an apprentice to two very talented lawyers, Frank H. Mott and Benjamin S. Dean, who also were politically active, and literary, and friends of the Willards and other Jamestown leaders.

In Fall 1911, following Jackson’s year as a law office apprentice, these mentors persuaded him to go to a law school for a year of classroom learning and book study.  He chose Albany Law School because it was located in the New York State capital, because it was a leading and venerable independent law school, because it awarded law degrees after only two years of study, and because it would give him credit for his apprentice year—it admitted Jackson as, in effect, a transfer student into the “senior” class of 1912.

At Albany Law School during 1911-1912, Jackson worked hard and excelled.  By springtime, he wrote to the Willards, on the opposite side of New York State, that he soon would be graduating, and then returning to Jamestown for another year of apprenticeship, until he turned twenty-one and would become eligible to take the New York bar examination.

Vesta Willard responded by sending Jackson a notecard printed with a poem:

Congratulations

The world and I to you extend

Heartfelt Congratulations

May fortune’s favors have no end

Exceeding all your expectations

 

On the other side of the card, Vesta penned this note:

Tuesday Morning, May 7 [1912]

Dearest Bobbie – So you’re going to GRADUATE!  (See other side)

Probably you’ll see Bohemia in about a

month and then we’ll have a “Halleluyah Windup”

which will be merely the beginning of things.

Harry [a friend] and I “did” the hundred acre lot last

Saturday afternoon, and brought home all the

flowers we could carry, and incidentally, a

basket of cowslip greens.  These we immediately

“looked over” and cooked for supper.  Marywog [Mary Willard] was

too tired to go with us but she enjoyed the greens.

[Another friend] made us a visit Sunday night, but

he came too late (8:45) to catch Marywog.  She had

“turned in.”  So it was “up to me” until 11 P.M.

I rose to the occasion and listened attentively and

with a most misleading show of interest.

I’m “holding down” the [school] Study Hall just now but they [the students] are

“under control” and I wish this card was longer—I feel talkative.

The fifth chicken on the Easter card [apparently a previous mailing]

is merely the shadow of the Good Times coming.

Do try to be good —  Yours – V.W.

So what are cowslip greens?  As Vesta Willard knew, they were one of Robert Jackson’s very favorite foods.  Cowslip, or Primula Veris (“truly spring”), is an herb.  It is used for healing and cooking.  It usually grows, as its Latin name suggests, in the springtime, blooming from April to June.  Cowslip is native to Europe and Asia but in the United States it grows wild in fields and meadows.  Cowslip flower petals are used in pudding, creams, tea, jam, and wine.  The Willards seem to have liked cooked—I assume boiled—cowslip leaves as a supper vegetable.  Fresh, young cowslip leaves, which have a sweet but bland taste, also can be eaten as a green, or in salads, or—Jackson’s preference—in sandwiches.

In this season of commencements, I hope that you and yours have chances to celebrate the academic accomplishments of people you’ve raised or taught or otherwise love, and to find and eat some favorite foods, and then to keep on celebrating.  Indeed, if it’s your style, have a great “Halleluyah Windup”!

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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: 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:  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.

 

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.

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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: Phil C. Neal (1919-2016), Jackson Law Clerk

For the Jackson List:

In August 1940, United States Attorney General Robert H. Jackson appointed a new graduate of Harvard Law School, John F. Costelloe, to serve as a junior attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Claims Division (today, the Civil Division).

A year later, shortly after Jackson had been appointed an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he hired John Costelloe to be his first law clerk.  Costelloe’s work was superb and Jackson liked him a lot—he asked him to stay for a second year and, as it neared its conclusion, he mentioned to Costelloe that he could stay for a third… only to learn that he wished to move on to law practice.

So Justice Jackson mentioned to his son William, then a second year student at Harvard Law School and a member of the Harvard Law Review staff, that he would be needing a new law clerk starting that summer.

Bill Jackson went into action.  After speaking to the current Law Review president about his potential interest in clerking for the Justice, Bill wrote this letter to his father:

Dear Dad –                                          PHIL NEAL

                                                (for legibility’s sake)

             I have just talked to Phil Neal,

present head of the Bugle, and he is

interested in clerking for you.  The hitch is

that he goes before the Draft doctors on

the 20th [of the month, probably March 1943], but inasmuch as he has a bad

heart too (had rheumatic fever last year),

it seems probable he will be rejected.

            His marks are of course tops.  He

works like a stevedore.  His political-social

views are “liberal.”  He has personal charm

and is easy to work with.  In short, I

think he is a find.

            He will, however, be unavailable until

around October 1, when he graduates.  If you

need someone before that, perhaps he is out.

But there is nobody any good up here who will

be through before October.

            I suggested that if he were turned

down [at his military physical on] the 20th, he drop down for a talk

with you.  It might be nice if I asked

him to stay overnight at the house.  At

any rate, I told him I thought he would

probably hear from you about it, and I

suggest you write him a note at the Law

Review office.  – He’s a good man.

Wednesday                                          WEJ

 Phil Neal did flunk his U.S. Army physical, and he also heard from Justice Jackson.  At his invitation, Phil travelled to Washington, Jackson interviewed him, he liked him, and he quickly hired him to be his law clerk for the next year.

Phil Neal graduated from Harvard Law School at the start of October 1943.  He then, a week or so later, took the Illinois (his home state) bar examination, despite not having time to study for it or to take a bar review course.

It was Justice Jackson who insisted that Phil Neal take the bar then, before he started clerking.  Jackson explained that he was looking out for Phil’s later career (and apparently Jackson was not considering that Neal might flunk the bar—but he passed).  Jackson described how in 1936 President Roosevelt could not appoint Jackson’s excellent Treasury Department Revenue Bureau deputy counsel to succeed him as counsel when the President appointed Jackson to serve in DOJ because the deputy, always busy with his government work, had never gotten around to taking the bar.

*          *          *

By mid-October 1943, Phil Neal was working for Justice Jackson.  Phil served as Jackson’s law clerk for almost two years—during the first year, Jackson asked Phil to stay on for a second year and he accepted.  They got along well.  Jackson had high regard for Phil, and he liked and admired the Justice.

During Phil Neal’s clerkship years, between Fall 1943 and Spring 1945, he reviewed many petitions seeking Supreme Court review of lower court decisions and wrote short memoranda to Jackson, each summarizing a petition and advising Jackson to vote to grant or to deny review.

Phil Neal also advised Jackson on numerous major cases that the Court was deciding, and on opinions that Jackson had drafted.  These included:

  • Jackson’s dissenting opinion in Federal Power Commission v. Hope Natural Gas Co. (1944) (regarding the agency’s statutory authority to set gas prices);
  • Jackson’s opinion for the Court in Pollock v. Williams (1944) (holding that a Florida law criminalizing failure to work after receiving an advance payment violated the Thirteenth Amendment and the federal anti-peonage law);
  • Jackson’s dissenting opinion in Korematsu v. United States (1944) (arguing that criminalization of a Japanese-American’s violation of a military order excluding him from the West Coast was unconstitutional racial discrimination); and
  • Jackson’s opinion for the Court in Cramer v. United States (1945) (reversing treason convictions).

*          *          *

In March 1945, Phil Neal left his clerkship suddenly and “early.”  His departure began when Justice Felix Frankfurter popped into Phil’s office one day, as he often did on his way to visiting Jackson.  “What are you going to do next year?,” Frankfurter asked.  Phil replied that he had not been in the war, and was thinking that maybe he could “get in the peace end.”

Frankfurter promptly took Phil by the elbow to Frankfurter’s chambers, called his friend Alger Hiss of the U.S. Department of State, and told him about Phil Neal.  Hiss then was working at Dumbarton Oaks, heading up U.S. preparations for the imminent San Francisco conference that would create the United Nations.  Hiss and Neal then met, and Hiss—himself a former Supreme Court law clerk, to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.—hired Neal on the condition that he could free himself from Supreme Court work.

Phil Neal promptly contacted Murray Gartner, a Harvard Law School mate whom Jackson already had hired to succeed Phil, beginning a few months hence.  Phil explained the situation and ascertained that Murray could start the job immediately.  Phil then presented the scenario to Jackson and asked to leave his clerkship.  Jackson, liking Phil, feeling covered by Murray Gartner’s availability, and understanding the attraction the State Department opportunity had for Phil, said yes.

Indeed, just a few weeks later, when President Truman contacted Jackson and asked him to take on a post-war legal assignment, to negotiate and then to lead the international criminal prosecution of the surviving Nazi leaders…  Well, Jackson in a sense followed Phil Neal’s lead—he also left the Supreme Court, if in his case only temporarily, to work on global legal challenges, for what became his year-plus as U.S. chief prosecutor at Nuremberg.

Interestingly, when Phil Neal applied to take the California bar later that year and the bar examiners inquired of Jackson about Neal’s previous employment and character, Jackson’s enthusiastic reply, cabled back to the U.S. from Nuremberg, said that Phil Neal “is not on this [Nuremberg trial] mission only because I released him to [the] State Department at [the] time of [the] San Francisco conference.”

*          *          *

During Spring and Summer 1945, Phil Neal worked for the State Department, first in Washington and then in San Francisco.  As a member of the State secretariat staff, he worked on the establishment of the United Nations, and particularly on the International Court of Justice provisions in the draft U.N. Charter.

After leaving government work and passing his second bar examination, Phil Neal stayed to live in San Francisco.  He became an associate at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro.  In 1948, he became an associate professor at Stanford Law School.  In 1952, he became a professor.  His courses included Administrative Law, Agency, Bills & Notes, and Constitutional Law.

Throughout these years, Justice Jackson and Phil Neal stayed in occasional contact and saw each other when geography permitted.  One instance was August 1951, when Robert Jackson and his wife Irene, vacationing northern California, visited Phil Neal and his wife at their home in Los Altos.  Phil asked Jackson if he would interview Phil’s top student, a World War II veteran from Wisconsin named William H. Rehnquist, for a possible clerkship.  Jackson said yes, they went over to the Stanford campus, and the meeting occurred in Phil’s office.  Jackson liked Bill Rehnquist and, a few months later, as he was about to graduate, Jackson hired him.  Rehnquist was one of Jackson’s two law clerks during 1952-53.  (Two decades later, of course, Rehnquist returned to work at the Supreme Court as a justice.)

While at Stanford, Phil Neal, in addition to devoting himself to teaching and scholarship, stayed involved, sometimes behind the scenes, in major legal matters.  In the early 1950s, for example, he assisted Thurgood Marshall and his NAACP legal team as they prepared for oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education and its companion cases challenging the constitutionality of racial segregation in public schools.  In May 1954, just after Brown was decided (unanimously, including by Justice Jackson), William T. Coleman, a NAACP junior lawyer and Phil Neal friend, wrote to Phil to thank him for his assistance.  Phil’s reply first stated his embarrassment to be thanked for anything.  He then stated his fundamental faith in lawyers and their work:

You surely deserve to be congratulated on your momentous victory.  Some may think the result merely the inevitable course of history—or pure politics, as some choose to believe—but I’m sure that you and your colleagues could show that it came at this moment and in the form it took because of years of able planning and advocacy by lawyers.

Related, one of the U.S. Supreme Court cases that Phil Neal later argued and won was a 1986 case, Pasadena City Board of Education v. Spangler, a class action challenging the constitutionality of racial segregation in a California high school system.

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1958, L-R:  Phil Neal (Stanford), Charles Fairman (Harvard), Julius Goebel (Columbia), L. Quincy Mumford (Librarian of Congress) and Paul Freund (Harvard).

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In 1962, Phil Neal, after thirteen years on the Stanford law faculty, became a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.  The next year, he was appointed Dean.  He succeeded Edward H. Levi, who after twelve years as dean had become University provost—and who in 1975 would become U.S. Attorney General.

Phil Neal served as the Dean of the University of Chicago Law School, one of the nation’s great law schools, and one that rose in strength under his leadership, from 1962 until 1975.  While serving as Dean, Phil also served as executive secretary of the Coordinating Committee of the U.S. Federal Courts, charged with administering the massive volume of electrical equipment antitrust cases, and in that capacity he drafted the statute creating the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.  He also served as Chairman of the White House Task Force on the Antitrust Laws, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson.

After Phil Neal in 1975 completed twelve years as Chicago’s law dean, he remained on the faculty, teaching courses in Antitrust (sometimes co-teaching with a leading economist), Constitutional Law, Elements of the Law, and Legal Ethics, and a Supreme Court seminar that sometimes met in his home.  He also practiced law as Of Counsel with Friedman & Koven, a Chicago firm.

In the 1980s, when Phil Neal was in his sixties and academic institutions still could legally mandate faculty retirements because higher education was exempted from the federal law barring age discrimination in employment, he retired, at least formally, becoming a professor emeritus.

Phil Neal, in full health and energy, and at his core a brilliant lawyer who loved his profession, then continued, and increased, his law practice.  In 1986, with thirty-four other lawyers, he founded Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg.  Today the firm has well over one hundred lawyers.  Phil helped to build the firm and practiced there very actively for decades, focusing on trial and appellate litigation in business law areas including antitrust, securities, bankruptcy and corporate law.  He served on the firm’s executive committee until recently.

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October 2002:  Phil Neal in Venice, Italy.

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Phil Caldwell Neal’s extraordinary life ended last month. I was very lucky to know him, and to learn much from him about Robert H. Jackson—Phil savored his memories of Justice Jackson, admired him greatly, and regarded him as a very important life influence.

My even greater fortune, shared with many thousands, was to learn from Phil Neal about greatness in all the ways that he was.  He was dauntingly smart.  He was a stickler for clarity, in analysis, in writing, and in speech.  He was reflective—he could seem even taciturn at times, but that was because his wheels turned so fast, and sometimes they were grinding up weak ideas that had been presented to him.  He held himself and others to very high standards.  He had humility, decency, and humanity—he was, at his core, kindly.  And he believed deeply in the rule of law, and in the legal profession as a force for good.  In all of these ways, he was a leader, a motivator, a guide, a teacher.

And he did quite well, by the way, with a U.S. Army-certified bad heart.

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July 3, 2016:  Phil Neal at his home in Sawyer, Michigan.

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Some links—

  • Phil Neal, speaking at Albany Law School in November 2004 about Justice Jackson—click here for video;
  • Phil Neal, at a dinner at Chautauqua Institution in 2002 following a former Jackson law clerks’ roundtable at the Robert H. Jackson Center, telling a story about his first name—Phil, not Philip—and an exchange he once had with Justice Tom C. Clark—click here for video (and skip ahead to the 4:00 mark, after my introduction of Phil, for his story);
  • Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s announcement of Phil Neal’s death—click here;
  • The University of Chicago’s announcement—click here;
  • An announcement published in the Chicago Tribuneclick here; and
  • An obituary from Phil’s neighborhood paper, the Hyde Park Heraldclick 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.