President Barack Obama made it official Friday, signing H.R. 3556 into law, naming the new United States courthouse in Buffalo the Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse.
Jackson began his legal career in a Jamestown firm and went on to serve the as solicitor general, attorney general and U.S. Supreme Court justice, in addition to his role at Nuremberg. The companion bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-South Buffalo, passed the House of Representatives in July.
"With President Obama's signature today, our legislation to name Buffalo's federal courthouse for Western New York's own Justice Robert H. Jackson has officially become law," said Higgins. "I could not be more pleased that this majestic new building, located along the path that Justice Jackson himself walked each day from his home on Johnson Park to the firm in the Ellicott Square building where he practiced law, will bear the name of this man, who has left such a remarkable legacy on our nation's justice system.
President Barack Obama has signed legislation naming Buffalo’s Federal Courthouse after Robert H. Jackson.
AP file photo
U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer also championed the bill through the Senate.
"The downtown Buffalo U.S. courthouse will now officially carry the name of Jamestown's own Justice Robert H. Jackson honoring his tremendous public service to our community and our entire country," said Sen. Gillibrand. "From serving on America's highest court, to his role as the architect of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Justice Jackson always served with integrity, and was a true champion for human rights. This is the perfect opportunity for Western New York to celebrate and honor his legacy."
In 1934, Jackson was appointed to federal judgeship by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which opened the door to a host of federal roles, including his work as the U.S. Solicitor General, U.S. Attorney General, and finally his extensive work as a Supreme Court Justice. In 1945, President Truman appointed Jackson to serve as the chief prosecutor in the international Nuremberg Trials, for which he took a leave from the Supreme Court. Jackson is famous for the passion, energy, intellect and great skill that he brought to these trials.
"Justice Jackson is not simply the only Supreme Court Justice to hail from Western New York, he is also remembered by many prominent legal scholars for his eloquent speeches and thoughtful and compelling opinions," Higgins continued. "Justice Jackson's work on the Supreme Court was so impressive, in fact, that he was later appointed to serve as the chief prosecutor of Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials."
Robert Jackson was raised in Frewsburg and then spent the majority of his young adulthood in Jamestown, after spending a post-graduate year at Jamestown High School. Jackson went on to Albany Law School, and then returned to join a law practice in Jamestown. Jackson went on to become a leading lawyer in New York state, and was elected to the American Law Institute in 1930 among other roles that elevated his national reputation.
"With the stroke of a pen, the Buffalo Federal Courthouse will finally bear Justice Jackson's name," said Schumer. "This courthouse symbolizes the rule of law in Western New York, and as the region's only Supreme Court Justice that had his humble beginnings in Jamestown and famously went on to be chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials, this name is a perfect fit. The Buffalo courthouse stands as a new pillar of the Buffalo community, serving justice throughout Western New York, and it honors all that he has accomplished through his long career in public service."
"Justice Jackson's story is a uniquely Western New York story - a uniquely American story - and there is no doubt in my mind that, with his name on our courthouse, his story will continue to inspire Western New Yorkers for generations to come," Higgins concluded.