Thursday, April 2, 2015

Barrett on Jackson on Federal Prosecution, 1940

Attorney General Jackson (LC)
John Q. Barrett’s posts on Robert H. Jackson are always interesting, but his latest, on Jackson’s “Federal Prosecutor” address of April 1, 1940, is especially so.  It provides a window into the politics of the Department of Justice in 1939-40 and, by reproducing a letter from Gordon Dean to Jackson and Jackson’s speech, explains when Main Justice would exercise “centralized control” over prosecution and suggests a new emphasis on respecting civil liberties in law enforcement.  “Those who are in office are apt to regard as ‘subversive’ the activities of any of those who would bring about a change of administration,” Jackson reminded the assembled US Attorneys.  “Some of our soundest constitutional doctrines were once punished as subversive.”