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Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004
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Sun Herald

Mississippi, Monday, May 17, 2004


Rehnquist Praises Jackson on Nuremberg

by Hope Yen
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on Monday praised a Supreme Court justice of a half-century ago for his commitment to "intellectual integrity" as chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials of accused war criminals.

Rehnquist made his remarks at the annual meeting of the American Law Institute, two days before the court-martial of Army Spc. Jeremy Sivits, the first soldier to stand trial for allegations of abuse of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison.

Robert H Jackson Justice Robert Jackson (left, at Nuremberg in 1945) accepted President Truman's invitation in 1945 to prosecute 22 German defendants accused of charges that included conducting harmful medical experiments on humans. Many of the Nazi defendants argued they were following orders from their superiors.

Jackson's move, seen as extraordinary since the justice was acting as an advocate rather than a judge, was criticized by then-Chief Justice Harlan Stone as taking part in a "high-grade lynching party." Twelve of the war crimes defendants were later sentenced to death and three were sent to prison for life. The others were acquitted or served shorter prison sentences.

Jackson took on the role with passion and diligence, and worked to establish a clear accounting of events for the Nuremberg trials, which "certainly has some relevance today," Rehnquist said. The chief justice, 79, who was a clerk to Jackson from 1952-53, made no direct reference to the current cases in Iraq.

Jackson felt "we must summon detachment and intellectual integrity to our task," believing "we must never forget the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow," Rehnquist said.

Returning to the high court in 1946, "Jackson had eight more productive years, but ... he is probably best remembered in the general public for his service in the Nuremberg trials," Rehnquist said.


Obituary of Sir Hartley Shawcross, British chief prosecutor at Nuremberg
David Irving: Nuremberg, the Last Battle (free download)
US Supreme Court website
Website of Robert H Jackson Center, Pennsylvania
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