Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Sunday, April 24, 2011

...and speaking of the new federal courthouse, there is also the question of whose name should be honored at its dedication. To my way of thinking it should either be named for Robert H. Jackson, the only Supreme Court Justice from Western New York (and the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials), or Judge John Curtin. There is some talk of naming it in honor of military veterans, but I say the hell with that. Vets can have monuments and stadiums named after them. Courthouses should be named for people in the justice business, not the war racket, and although I think that the narrative of American jurisprudence over-exalts judges somewhat both Jackson and Curtin deserve the honor. Ironically, the reason neither is likely to receive it turns on race. William Rehnquist clerked for Jackson at the time Brown v. Board of Education was before the Court, and wrote a memorandum recommending that the Court adhere to Plessy v. Ferguson. During his confirmation hearing Rehnquist attributed the views in his memo to Jackson, although Jackson did not end up voting that way. Since he was dead he could not defend himself from the accusation. Curtin, on the other hand, ordered and supervised desertification of the Buffalo schools, which still pisses some people off.

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