Monday, January 14, 2013

Lesson's from Robert H. Jackson's Legacy

Grassroots and Balanced Approaches to Justice for Guantanamo Bay, Piracy, and the Affordable Care Act
By Nicholas A. Battaglia
Nick Battaglia, a 2012 cum laude graduate of Albany Law School, and magna cum laude from Marist College, served as Executive Editor for Lead Articles on the Albany Law Review. He is the founder and managing member of NAB Legal Marketing, LLC--a law firm marketing business. He has previously published with the Albany Law Review, the Jurist, New York State Bar Association, and the Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy.
Nick is currently an associate at the law firm of  Conway & Kirby in Latham, New York. He is admitted to practice in the State of New Jersey, the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, and is pending admission for practice in the State of New York.
His paper was one of the award winning finalists in the 2012 Justice Robert H. Jackson Centennial Writing Competition.

The lessons and experiences that Justice Robert H. Jackson encountered during his childhood were echoed throughout his career and permeated his legal philosophy. He had even acknowledged this in his short, one-page article written for the American Bar Association Journal in 1950, where he labeled himself a “country lawyer.”

Justice Jackson was still capable of reflecting on his humble beginnings even after defending FDR’s New Deal legislation, serving on the Supreme Court of the United States, and facing down evil as chief prosecutor at the Nuremburg Tribunal. It was this childhood that truly developed Justice Jackson’s grassroots and balanced approach to problem-solving.

This paper connects Justice Jackson’s pedagogical childhood experiences with major cases and events throughout Justice Jackson’s life which affect our society today. It details how Justice Jackson’s opinion in Barnette v. West Virginia Board of Education, where Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to salute the flag at the height of wartime patriotism, was a product of Justice Jackson’s scolding as a child after he ridiculed an entire church during mass. As a result of his majority opinion, courts today have extrapolated Barnette’s holding in cases involving schools and other allegations of First and Fourteen Amendment rights violations.

Additionally, this paper explores how Justice Jackson’s respect for due process rights, both during wartime for some of the vilest Nazi officers at the Nuremburg Tribunal and as a dissenter in the infamous Japanese internment camp case, Korematsu v. United States, was a result of habitual, childhood conversations with family members who resented war and violence.

The belief that violence was orderless and solved very little was a principle instilled in Justice Jackson. It became the impetus for his ensuring that the Nuremburg Tribunal did not become a “kangaroo court.” This precedent has a direct relation to the incidents transpiring at Guantanamo Bay today--preserving, or attempting to preserve, the attenuated due process rights of suspected terrorists. Additionally, these notions birthed the International Criminal Court and refined international law today which is tasked with combating piracy on the high seas.

Finally, this paper explains President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act thorough the lens of Justice Jackson’s seminal opinion in Wickard v. Filburn. The doctrine of an aggregated impact on interstate commerce, which stems from Wickard and has been applied by the Court ever since--e.g., several years ago in Gonzales v. Raich--was exhaustively discussed in the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision.

Even though Wickard turned out not to be the key to the Affordable Care Act's survival, it still demonstrates Justice Jackson’s influence through his writing more than seventy years ago, and was at the heart of perhaps the most controversial legal dispute of this era.
To read the paper, open HERE.