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James Buckley
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

In office
December 17, 1985 – August 31, 1996
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Edward Tamm
Succeeded by John Roberts
Counselor of the Department of State

In office
September 9, 1982 – September 26, 1982
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Bud McFarlane
Succeeded by Ed Derwinski
Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs

In office
February 28, 1981 – August 20, 1982
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Matthew Nimetz
Succeeded by William Schneider
United States Senator
from New York

In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by Charles Goodell
Succeeded by Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Personal details
Born James Lane Buckley
March 9, 1923(1923-03-09) (age 99)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Conservative (Before 1976)
Republican (1976–present)
Spouse(s) Ann Cooley

James Lane Buckley (born March 9, 1923) is an inactive Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He served as a United States Senator from the state of New York as a member of the Conservative Party of New York from January 3, 1971 to January 3, 1977. He was vice president and director of the Catawba Corporation from 1953 to 1970, and also served as Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance 1981–1982, as well as President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. 1982–1985.

Buckley was also the lead petitioner in a landmark Supreme Court case, Buckley v. Valeo, which "shaped modern campaign-finance law."[1] He successfully challenged the constitutionality of a law limiting campaign spending in Congressional races.

In the 1970 election he was elected to the U.S. Senate as the nominee of the Conservative Party of New York, winning 38.7 percent of the vote in a six-candidate race,[2] and served from 1971 until 1977. To date he has been the only candidate of his party, and the last third party registrant,[3] to be successfully nominated and elected to the U.S. Congress.[4]

In the Senate Buckley introduced landmark legislation enacted by Congress to protect student records—the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) — as well as the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which requires parental consent prior to administration of student surveys on any of eight sensitive topics.

Buckley went on to a serve as an undersecretary of state—during Reagan’s first term—and a federal appellate judge. In between, Buckley held a number of other positions, including president of Radio Free Europe in the mid-1980s.[1]

William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of the influential conservative magazine National Review, was James Buckley's younger brother.

Early life; education and early career

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.[5] 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.[6] Graduating from Yale University in 1943 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, where he was a member of Skull and Bones,[7][8][9] 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 Catawba as vice president and director.[10]

Buckley was married to Ann Cooley Buckley (died December 30, 2011), a former CIA desk officer, for 58 years and resides in Sharon, Connecticut. They have a daughter and five sons.[11]

Political career

In 1968 Buckley challenged liberal Republican Senator Jacob K. Javits for re-election. 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."[12] In 1970, he ran on the Conservative Party line for the U.S. Senate, facing the Republican incumbent, Charles Goodell; and the 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?"[13]

With Goodell and Ottinger splitting the liberal vote, Buckley won with 39% of the vote and entered the Senate in January 1971. "He 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."[1] Although Buckley had been elected from the Conservative party, it was observed that he'd probably usually vote with the Republicans.

In his 1976 re-election bid, with Rockefeller's liberal GOP faction falling apart, Buckley received the Republican nomination. Initially he was 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 UN, 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, who would go on to hold the seat until his retirement in 2011.

Senate tenure

In 1974, he proposed a human life amendment, which 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.[14] 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 he 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, 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 Republican figure to call for such a resignation. Nixon did not resign at that time, but eventually did lose the support of other key Republican figures, including Sen. Barry Goldwater,[15] and ultimately resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.

1976 Republican National Convention

During the 1976 Republican National Convention, then-Senator Jesse Helms encouraged a "Draft Buckley" movement, as an effort to stop the nomination of Ronald Reagan for President. Reagan had announced that Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker would be his running-mate if picked; Helms believed that Schweiker was too liberal. The "Draft Buckley" movement was mooted when President Gerald Ford very narrowly won the party's nomination on the first ballot.[16][17]

Judicial career

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.

Buckley was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on October 16, 1985, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated by Judge Edward Allen Tamm. He 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. He is currently in inactive senior status and does not maintain chambers or perform judicial duties.[10]


Buckley is the author of four books. Freedom at Risk: Reflections on Politics, Liberty, and the State, was released in December 2010. Buckley discussed Freedom at Risk on C-SPAN on January 12, 2011.[18] His latest book "Saving Congress from Itself" (released December 2014) was sent to every member of the US Senate (114th Congress) by Dallas businessman and Buckley family devotee Chris M. Lantrip.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Russello, Gerald. Mr. Buckley Goes to Washington, The American Conservative
  2. [1]
  3. William Carney was registered as a Conservative, but won the Republican primary in New York's 1st congressional district in 1978. Robert Spitzer (1994), "Third Parties in New York State", in Jeffrey M. Stonecash, John Kenneth White, and Peter W. Colby, edd., Governing New York State, Third Edition, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  4. While elected in 2006 on the "Connecticut for Lieberman" line, Joe Lieberman's voter registration was and is Democratic. Vermont independent Bernie Sanders is not registered as a member of any political party. Neither Vermont Independent Jim Jeffords nor the Independence Party of Minnesota's Dean Barkley was ever elected as an Independent, though, after leaving office, Barkley ran as the Independence Party's candidate in the 2008 Senate election.
  5. "Ancestry of William F. Buckley". 
  6. "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. 
  7. 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
  8. "People in the News", Associated Press, May 27, 1983
  9. Bob Dart, "Skull and bones a secret shared by Bush, Kerry", The Gazette, March 7, 2004
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Buckley, James Lane - Federal Judicial Center". 
  11. "Isn't It Time We Had a Senator". New York. p. 47. 
  12. Carroll, Maurice (3 November 1976). "Moynihan Defeats Buckley For New York Senate Seat". New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  13. Topic Galleries Chicago Tribune
  14. "Why Richard Nixon Should Resign the Presidency". 
  15. Goldberg, Robert Alan (1995), Barry Goldwater, the standard scholarly biography, page 282
  16. World Almanac and Book of Facts 1977
  17. Vanderbilt Television News Archive
  18. C-SPAN program on Freedom at Risk

Further reading

  • 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

United States 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
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

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