Then And Now

The Robert H. Jackson Center has had an exciting 10-year history – bookended by visits from William Rehnquist and John Roberts, sitting chief justices of the United States at the times of their visits.

It’s a remarkable honor that Jamestown and the Robert H. Jackson Center have hosted the last two sitting chief justices. Friday’s visit by Chief Justice John Roberts also shows how far the center has come from those early days, when Greg Peterson gathered with Elizabeth Lenna and Carl Cappa to devise a way to honor Robert H. Jackson.

Rehnquist’s visit was the culmination of years of work getting the center off the ground. It was only fitting its formal dedication be attended by Rehnquist, Jackson’s highest-profile law clerk, a position he filled from February 1952 to June 1953. On that damp, gray day, Rehnquist stood on the Jackson Center’s porch and told the nearly 3,000 people who had assembled the reasons why Robert H. Jackson’s tenure as a jurist should be remembered.

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History

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His speech, delivered with nearly 1,200 schoolchildren in the audience and a crowd of around 1,800 people, was the perfect primer on Robert H. Jackson – the masterful use of language, his pride and powerful performance as chief prosecutor of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg and acknowledgment of Jackson’s legal arguments, many of which continue to be cited as justification for legal reasoning today.

“Surely Jamestown and Chautauqua County can be proud of the career of their native son on both the national and international scenes,” Rehnquist said in closing his address.

Friday’s visit by Roberts, a former Rehnquist law clerk and Rehnquist’s successor to the highest judicial post in the land, is a validation not only of the work Jackson did, but of the work the Jackson Center is doing every day.

Roberts told the assembled audience about life on the court, both in Jackson’s day and now, while giving his own take on Jackson’s life and work on the court. Roberts speech was perfect for both the large crowd of attorneys and judges but for the roughly 1,800 schoolchildren in attendance. An estimated crowd of about 2,500 to 3,000 people crowded around the front porch of the Jackson Center to hear the chief justice speak.

“I am especially proud to share this anniversary celebration,” he said. “This center is an appropriate monument to its namesake who is well-known for his learning and eloquence.” – bookended by visits from William Rehnquist and John Roberts, sitting Chief Justice of the United States at the time of their visits.

It’s a remarkable honor that Jamestown and the Robert H. Jackson Center have hosted the last two sitting chief justices. Friday’s visit by Chief Justice John Roberts also shows how far the center has come from those early days, when Greg Peterson gathered with Elizabeth Lenna and Carl Cappa to devise a way to honor Robert H. Jackson.