RHJC Welcomes Dr. Charles Fried

The Robert H. Jackson Center welcomed Dr. Charles Fried to the area Tuesday, where he was interviewed by Greg Peterson and later gave the ninth annual Robert H. Jackson lecture on the Supreme Court at Chautauqua Institution.

Fried, a leading jurist, scholar, teacher and litigator, also served as Solicitor General from 1985-89 under President Ronald Reagan. From 1995-99, he was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. Except for his periods of government service, Fried has been teaching at Harvard since 1961. He is also the author of several books such as “Right and Wrong,” “Modern Liberty” and “Saying What the Law Is: The Constitution in the Supreme Court.”

“I did two years of law at Oxford, and Herbert Wexler was my legal education,” said Fried. “I came in and at the time (Wexler) was doing model penal code, I had him for constitutional law, and I had him for the first half of federal courts. He was, to my mind, the greatest legal scholar of his time.”

According to Fried, it was Wexler’s recommendation that allowed him to be selected as a law clerk for John Harlan, an associate justice on the Supreme Court who served from 1955-71. Harlan was the successor to Robert H. Jackson. In the years since his service, Harlan has been succeeded by William Rehnquist and John Roberts, both of whom have visited Jamestown during their time on the Supreme Court.

Fried also spoke at length about his time as Solicitor General during the interview.

“I found that it was not one teacher with nine students, but rather nine teachers with one student,” said Fried. “I welcomed the occasion to learn what was on (the Justices’) minds.”

During his time in that position, Fried kept many of his arguments conversational in manner, saying that it was the most effective way to argue a case to the Supreme Court.

“I had a tendency to lecture,” said Fried. “Keeping it conversational undercut that.”

Other topics that Peterson covered in the interview with Fried included the cases that he argued in the Supreme Court during his time in the Solicitor General’s office, what it was like to be a law clerk for an associate justice, and what his favorite points in his career had been.

The interview will eventually be put online by the Robert H. Jackson Center, just as their other interviews have been in the past. For more information about the Robert H. Jackson Center, including upcoming events, visit roberthjacksoncenter.org or call 483-6646.