There are bits in the entirety of Robert H. Jackson’s opening statement at Nuremberg — a portion of which is excerpted above — that remind me a bit of Roberto Bolaño’s The Part About the Crimes. After I finished reading Jackson’s opening statement, I was convinced that Bolaño had read it, too, and even though he didn’t do any of the obvious winks towards Light in August the way he did in The Savage Detectives, I still remain convinced to this day and this evening that he did.
Jackson was born in 1892, died in 1954, and — over the course of his life — followed an arc that took him from IRS legal counsel to Solicitor General to Attorney General to Supreme Court Justice before he helped shape modern international law. He never graduated law school.
Roosevelt liked him a lot, as did Brandeis (“I wish he could be solicitor general for life.”) Roosevelt even floated the idea of Jackson running as his successor before deciding on a third term. Beside mentioning the damn foolish hackery associated with hiding one’s keys, it should be noted that he’s considered a hero by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and he’s regularly cited by Fatou Bensouda.
Instead of a President, though, we have a legacy of cases against Andrew Mellon, upholding the Tobacco Inspection Act of 1935, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, and the Revenue Act of 1936. He joined the Warren opinion on Brown vs. Board of Education. He wrote the opinion for West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, as well as — get ready — several others.
There’s a point to be made here about the balance between rhetoric, law, and the times, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet.