Happy 100th Birthday to Senator, Undersecretary and Justice James L. Buckley

On Thursday, James L. Buckley celebrates his 100th birthday. Most law students will know his name from the seminal case of Buckley vs. Valeo. But he did so much more. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy. He was elected as new York Senator on the Conservative Party ticket. President Reagan appointed Buckley Under Secretary of State for International Security. And Reagan then hired Buckley as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. He is one of the most remarkable civil servants of the 20th century. (I would add Justice Silberman to that list.)

I had the the honor of meeting Judge Buckley at the 2021 Judge Thomas Story Conference. I’m not easily floored, but I was when I shook hands with Judge Buckley. I mentioned that I always teach his case in First Amendmentand he made a comment about supporters trying to silence him.

THE Wall Street The journal published a Op-Ed commemorating Buckley’s birthday:

The oldest former US senator will turn 100 on Thursday. James L. Buckley is one of the few in American history to have served in the upper echelons of all three branches of our government.

And there’s a proposal to honor Buckley’s legacy in my garden:

Despite his exemplary public service, Mr. Buckley has yet to be honored as he deserves. There are public monuments named after former U.S. Senators from New York, including Moynihan Train Hall, the Javits Center, and the Robert F. kennedy Bridge. But nothing yet for Mr. Buckley.

A new bill could change that. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R., NY) introduced legislation to rename the Staten Island tracts of the Gateway National Seashore for the centennial who in the early 1970s co-sponsored the measure to create that same park. Senator Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) is co-sponsoring the bill. Why would an Alaskan want to honor the esteemed senator from New York? Mr. Sullivan articled in Justice Buckley’s office and admires him greatly.

As a native of Staten Island, who has spent a lot of time at Gateway National Park, I wholeheartedly approve of this proposition! Fun story: When I was a kid, my dad was pulled over by the Federal Park Police while driving on Hylan Boulevard near Gateway Park. He asked if the park police even had the power (ie jurisdiction) to arrest us. It was the first time I realized that the federal government was different from the local police department. I guess I owe Justice Buckley credit for that first lesson in constitutional law.

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