James L. Buckley

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

James Buckley
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
December 17, 1985 – August 31, 1996
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byEdward Tamm
Succeeded byJohn Roberts
Counselor of the Department of State
In office
September 9, 1982 – September 26, 1982
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byBud McFarlane
Succeeded byEd Derwinski
Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs
In office
February 28, 1981 – August 20, 1982
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byMatthew Nimetz
Succeeded byWilliam Schneider
United States Senator
from New York
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1977
Preceded byCharles Goodell
Succeeded byDaniel Patrick Moynihan
Personal details
James Lane Buckley

(1923-03-09) March 9, 1923 (age 97)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyConservative (before 1976)
Republican (1976–present)
Ann Frances Cooley
(m. 1953; died 2011)
FatherWilliam Frank Buckley Sr.
EducationYale University (BA, LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1942–1946
RankUS Navy O2 infobox.svg Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Battles/warsWorld War II

James Lane Buckley (born March 9, 1923) is an American jurist, politician, civil servant, attorney, businessman, and author.

In 1970, Buckley was elected to the U.S. Senate as the nominee of the Conservative Party of New York; he won 39 percent of the vote[1] and served from 1971 until 1977. During the first Reagan administration, Buckley served as Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs. He was also President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1982 to 1985.

Buckley was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on October 16, 1985. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1985 and received commission on December 17, 1985. Buckley assumed senior status on August 31, 1996.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Buckley was born in New York City. He is the son of Aloise Josephine Antonia (née Steiner) and lawyer and businessman William Frank Buckley, Sr.[2] He is the older brother of the late conservative writer William F. Buckley, Jr. and the uncle of Christopher Taylor Buckley. He is also the uncle of Brent Bozell III and political consultant William F. B. O'Reilly. His mother, from New Orleans, was of Swiss-German, German, and Irish descent, while his paternal grandparents, from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, were of Irish ancestry.[3] Buckley attended Millbrook School, graduating in 1941.[4] Graduating from Yale University in 1943 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, where he was a member of Skull and Bones,[5][6][7] Buckley enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942 and was discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1946. After receiving his Bachelor of Laws from Yale Law School in 1949, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1950 and practiced law until 1953, when he joined The Catawba Corporation as vice president and director.[8]

Buckley was married to Ann Cooley Buckley (died December 30, 2011), a former CIA desk officer, for 58 years; they had a daughter and five sons.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

In 1968, Buckley challenged liberal Republican U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits for re-election. Buckley ran on the Conservative Party line.[9] Javits won easily,[9] but Buckley received a large number of votes from disaffected conservative Republicans. The New York Times called Buckley's 1968 senatorial campaign "lonely and unsuccessful."[10]

In 1970, Buckley ran for U.S. Senate on the Conservative Party line once again. This time, he faced Republican incumbent Charles Goodell and Democratic nominee Richard Ottinger. Goodell, who had been appointed to the Senate by Governor Nelson Rockefeller following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, had moved left, especially as an opponent of the Vietnam War. Buckley's campaign slogan, plastered on billboards statewide, was: "Isn't it time we had a Senator?" With Goodell and Ottinger splitting the liberal vote, Buckley received 39% of the vote, won the election,[11] and entered the U.S. Senate in January 1971. According to scholar Gerald Russello, Buckley "performed well in New York City itself, at a time when the city still had a beating conservative heart in the middle-class neighborhoods of the outer boroughs."[12]

In his 1976 re-election bid, with Rockefeller's liberal faction falling apart, Buckley received the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate along with the Conservative Party nomination. He was initially favored for re-election because the frontrunner in the crowded Democratic field was Manhattan Congresswoman Bella Abzug, a liberal feminist reviled by the right. But when Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, made a late entrance into the Democratic primary and narrowly defeated Abzug, Buckley could no longer count on getting the votes of moderate Democrats. Moynihan went on to defeat Buckley 54% to 45%.[13]

After his loss, Buckley moved to Connecticut, and in 1980 received the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Abraham Ribicoff. He lost the general election to Christopher Dodd.[14]

U.S. Senate tenure[edit]

In 1974, Buckley proposed a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If passed, the Amendment would have defined the term "person" in the Fourteenth Amendment to include the embryo.[citation needed] His enacted legislation includes the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that governs use of student records and the Protection of Pupils' Rights Act (PPRA) that requires parent notification, right to review, and consent for administration of student surveys to minors if the survey collects information on any of eight specified topics.[citation needed]

In the spring of 1974, with the Watergate scandal continuing to grow in magnitude and seriousness, Buckley surprised and, in some cases, angered some of his allies among Republicans when he called upon the increasingly-embattled Richard M. Nixon to voluntarily resign the presidency.[15] Buckley said that in doing so, he was making no judgment as to Nixon's technical legal guilt or innocence of the accusations made against him and in fact denounced those "in and out of the media who have been exploiting the Watergate affair so recklessly" in what he called an effort "to subvert the decisive mandate of the 1972 election." However, he said that the burgeoning scandal might result in an impeachment process that would tear the country even further apart and so he declared: "There is one way and one way only by which the crisis can be resolved, and the country pulled out of the Watergate swamp. I propose an extraordinary act of statesmanship and courage—an act at once noble and heartbreaking; at once serving the greater interests of the nation, the institution of the Presidency, and the stated goals for which he so successfully campaigned"—Nixon's resignation.[citation needed] Buckley was the first major conservative figure to call for resignation. Nixon did not resign at that time but eventually did lose the support of key Republican figures, including Senator Barry Goldwater.[16] Nixon ultimately resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.[17]

Buckley was the lead petitioner in a landmark Supreme Court case, Buckley v. Valeo (1976), which "shaped modern campaign-finance law".[12]

1976 Republican National Convention[edit]

During the 1976 Republican National Convention, then-Senator Jesse Helms encouraged a "Draft Buckley" movement in an effort to stop the nomination of Ronald Reagan for President. (Reagan had announced that Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker would be his running mate; Helms objected to this decision, believing Schweiker to be too liberal.) The "Draft Buckley" movement was rendered moot when President Gerald Ford narrowly won the party's nomination on the first ballot.[18][19]

Post-Senate career[edit]

In the first Reagan administration, Buckley served as an undersecretary of State, and then as President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1982 to 1985.[20]

On October 16, 1985, Buckley was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The seat had previously been held by Judge Edward Allen Tamm. Buckley was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1985 and received commission on December 17, 1985. He assumed senior status on August 31, 1996.[8] Buckley resides in Sharon, Connecticut.[21]

Upon the death of Ernest F. Hollings in April 2019, Buckley became the oldest living person to have served as an elected member of the U.S. Senate.[22]


Buckley is the author of the following books:

  • If Men Were Angels: A View from the Senate (1975)[23]
  • Gleanings from an Unplanned Life (2006)[24]
  • Freedom at Risk: Reflections on Politics, Liberty, and the State (2010)[25]
  • Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People (2014)[26]

Buckley discussed Freedom at Risk on C-SPAN on January 12, 2011.[27] Buckley’s last book, “Saving Congress From Itself”, was sent to every member of the U.S. Senate by Dallas businessman and Buckley family devotee Chris M. Lantrip.


  1. ^ Taranto, James (1 August 2014). "Nine Decades at the Barricades". Wall Street Journal – via www.wsj.com.
  2. ^ "Ancestry of William F. Buckley". www.wargs.com.
  3. ^ "The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women who are Doing the Work and Moulding the Thought of the Present Time". University Microfilms. January 1, 1967 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Alexandra Robbins, Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power, Little, Brown and Company, 2002, page 168, 174
  6. ^ "People in the News", Associated Press, May 27, 1983
  7. ^ Bob Dart, "Skull and bones a secret shared by Bush, Kerry", The Gazette, March 7, 2004
  8. ^ a b "Buckley, James Lane - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  9. ^ a b "Our Campaigns - NY US Senate Race - Nov 05, 1968". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  10. ^ Carroll, Maurice (3 November 1976). "Moynihan Defeats Buckley For New York Senate Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY US Senate Race - Nov 03, 1970". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  12. ^ a b Russello, Gerald. "Mr. Buckley Goes to Washington", The American Conservative, 11 April 2011, quoted in review of Freedom at Risk, Retrieved 17 June 2019
  13. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY US Senate Race - Nov 02, 1976". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  14. ^ "Our Campaigns - CT US Senate Race - Nov 04, 1980". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  15. ^ "Why Richard Nixon Should Resign the Presidency". The National Review. 1974.
  16. ^ Goldberg, Robert Alan (1995), Barry Goldwater, the standard scholarly biography, page 282
  17. ^ "August 9th in History: The Resignation of Richard Nixon". 9 August 2016.
  18. ^ World Almanac and Book of Facts 1977
  19. ^ "Vanderbilt Television News Archive". Tvnews.vanderbilt.edu. 1976-08-11. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  20. ^ "James Buckley on 2016: 'I am an unhappy man': Column". USA TODAY.
  21. ^ "Isn't It Time We Had a Senator". New York. p. 47.
  22. ^ Kilgore, Ed (April 8, 2019). "With Ernest Hollings's Death, New York's James Buckley Now Oldest Ex-Senator". Intelligencer.
  23. ^ Wills, Garry (4 March 1976). "Cato's Gang" – via www.nybooks.com.
  24. ^ "Dinner with the Buckleys". 30 June 2010.
  25. ^ "The Buckley Stops Here". 14 December 2010.
  26. ^ Andrew Kloster (20 March 2015). "Review: Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People, by James L. Buckley". Human Events.
  27. ^ "[Freedom at Risk] | C-SPAN.org". www.c-span.org.

Further reading[edit]

  • Buckley, James Lane (1975). If Men Were Angels: A View From the Senate. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-11589-7.
  • Buckley, James Lane (2006). Gleanings from an Unplanned Life: An Annotated Oral History. Wilmington: Intercollegiate Studies institute. ISBN 978-1-933859-11-8.
  • Buckley, James Lane (2010). Freedom at Risk: Reflections on Politics, Liberty, and the State. New York: Encounter Books. ISBN 1-59403-478-8.
  • Buckley, James Lane (2014). Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States and Empowering Their People. New York: Encounter Books.

External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Charles Goodell
United States Senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Jacob K. Javits
Succeeded by
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kieran O'Doherty
Conservative nominee for U.S. Senator from New York
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Barbara A. Keating
Preceded by
Henry Paolucci
Conservative nominee for U.S. Senator from New York
(Class 1)

1970, 1976
Succeeded by
Florence M. Sullivan
Preceded by
Charles Goodell
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New York
(Class 1)

Preceded by
James Brannen
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Connecticut
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Roger Eddy
Political offices
Preceded by
Matthew Nimetz
Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs
Succeeded by
William Schneider, Jr.
Preceded by
Robert McFarlane
Counselor of the Department of State
Succeeded by
Ed Derwinski
Legal offices
Preceded by
Edward Allen Tamm
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Succeeded by
John Roberts
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Jocelyn Burdick
Oldest Living United States Senator
(Sitting or Former)

December 26, 2019 – present
Current holder