James L. Buckley, R.I.P.

  • August 18, 2023
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Roger Pilon

I’m saddened to report that Jim Buckley has died at the age of 100. Juliana and I have enjoyed his friendship for many years, especially after he moved just down the road from us a few years ago. Jim was also long a friend of the Cato Institute. He was the lead plaintiff, for example, in the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo, in which Ed Crane was also a plaintiff, pressing the Supreme Court successfully, as it turned out, for more campaign finance freedom. He also came to the Cato Institute to swear Bradley A. Smith as a member of the Federal Election Commission. More recently, Jim spoke at a Cato Hill forum on Reviving Federalism, where we featured his latest book, Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People. I then reviewed the book for the Cato Journal.

Jim was that rare person who served in all three branches of the federal government. A lawyer by profession, he was storied originally for having been elected to the U.S. Senate from New York in 1970, running as a third‐​party candidate on the Conservative Party line. I’m proud to say that as a student at Columbia University at the time, I was a volunteer in that campaign. He was the most recent person to be elected to the Senate as the nominee of a party other than Democrat or Republican. Jim went on from there to be Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs in the Reagan administration, Director of Radio Free Europe, and finally as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he served from 1985 until he took senior status in 1996.

Jim was the last surviving member of the famous Buckley clan that included younger brother Bill, founder of National Review and credited often as the founder of the modern conservative intellectual movement. He was the warmest of men, an environmentalist in the best sense, and a friend to many. May he rest in peace.

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