|Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
|Assumed office |
August 31, 1996
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
December 17, 1985 – August 31, 1996
|Appointed by||Ronald Reagan|
|Preceded by||Edward Tamm|
|Succeeded by||John Roberts|
|Counselor of the Department of State|
September 9, 1982 – September 26, 1982
|Preceded by||Bud McFarlane|
|Succeeded by||Ed Derwinski|
|Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs|
February 28, 1981 – August 20, 1982
|Preceded by||Matthew Nimetz|
|Succeeded by||William Schneider|
|United States Senator|
from New York
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1977
|Preceded by||Charles Goodell|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Patrick Moynihan|
James Lane Buckley
March 9, 1923
New York City, U.S.
|Political party||Conservative (before 1976)|
Ann Frances Cooley
(m. 1953; died 2011)
|Education||Yale University (BA, LLB)|
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1942–1946|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
James Lane Buckley (born March 9, 1923) is an American retired jurist, politician, civil servant, attorney, businessman, and author, and the Senior Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, he previously served as a United States Senator from New York as a member of both the Republican Party and the Conservative Party of New York from 1971 to 1977. He was also the Republican nominee in the 1980 Connecticut Senate race, but was defeated by Democrat Chris Dodd.
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 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. He is one of the few people in modern times to have served in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Federal government.
James L. Buckley was born in New York City, the fourth of ten children of Aloise Josephine Antonia (née Steiner) and lawyer and businessman William Frank Buckley, Sr. 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.
Buckley attended Millbrook School, and in 1943 earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He 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. In 1965, he managed his brother William F. Buckley, Jr.'s campaign for Mayor of New York.
In 1968, Buckley challenged liberal Republican U.S. Senator Jacob Javits for re-election. Buckley ran on the Conservative Party line. Javits won easily, 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."
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 leftward ideologically, especially as an opponent of the Vietnam War. Buckley originally wanted to challenge Goodell in the Republican primary, but was not permitted to by state Republican officials; hence, he had to settle for the CPNY line on the ballot. 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 by plurality, 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".
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%.
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, garnering 43% of the vote and winning one county.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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. Nixon ultimately resigned on August 9, 1974.
Buckley was the lead petitioner in a landmark Supreme Court case, Buckley v. Valeo (1976), which "shaped modern campaign-finance law".
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.
After his loss in the 1976 election, Buckley worked for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, becoming a member of the executive committee and of its board of directors and eventually advancing to the position of corporate director.
After his loss in Connecticut, Buckley served as an undersecretary of State for security assistance starting in 1981 in the first Reagan administration, which handled military aid to strategically located countries, and then as President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich from 1982 to 1985.
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.
In 1953, Buckley married Ann Cooley Buckley, who was employed by the CIA; they had a daughter and five sons. She was rendered paraplegic by a car accident in 2006 and died on December 30, 2011.
He retired from public and private service in 2000 and now resides in Bethesda, Maryland.
During his service on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Buckley stated that he loved watching birds, polar bears, and other wild creatures in their habitats. “I have always been fascinated by nature...,” he said. As a child, “[he] would have odd pets — at one time or another, a crow, a cooper’s hawk, a flying squirrel, a woodchuck... Since [he has] been on the court, [he has] watched polar bears on three occasions. If you do something like this, you escape into a totally different world.”
Upon the death of Ernest F. Hollings in April 2019, Buckley became the oldest living current or former member of the U.S. Senate.
Buckley is the author of the following books:
Buckley discussed Freedom at Risk on C-SPAN on January 12, 2011. 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.