Monday, April 18, 2011

Justices Jackson and Frankfurter on Duty to the United States Through Reporting and Paying Taxes

As some of the Alumni know, Justice Robert H. Jackson had, prior to serving on the Supreme Court as the chief United States prosecutor for the Nuremburg Trails, has served both as general counsel of the Treasury where his responsibilities included the IRS and as Assistant Attorney General heading the Tax Division. I received the following email today from Professor John Q. Barrett of St. John's Law School and Fellow of the Robert H. Jackson Center, Inc.. I thought readers would be interested in this email and received permission from Professor Barrett to pass it along. (I have some links at the end for readers desiring to see more on Justice Jackson and some may want to join Professor Barret's email list as well.)

For the Jackson List:

In summer 1962, Justice Felix Frankfurter, age 79 and disabled by a stroke, retired from the Supreme Court of the United States after 23 years of service.

As a retired Justice, Frankfurter kept his mind and interested eyes on many matters. In winter 1964, for example, he spotted, or someone called to his attention, a quotation that an official U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form attributed to his late colleague Robert H. Jackson (who once had been the Revenue bureau’s chief counsel). According to the IRS, Jackson once said or wrote—no source was specified—that “[t]he United States has a system of taxation by confession. That a people so numerous, scattered and individualistic annually assesses itself with a tax liability, often in highly burdensome amounts, is a reassuring sign of the stability and vitality of our system of self-government.”