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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.