Robert H. Jackson was the last Supreme Court justice who never earned a law degree. After one year at Albany Law School, he became a lawyer by the age-old practice of “reading the law” in Jamestown, New York. He attached himself to the star of then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, and when the latter became president, Jackson joined the administration and served in a number of jobs, beginning as an assistant general counsel in the Bureau of Internal Revenue, in which capacity Jackson became a particular bête noire of Andrew Mellon and his business interests. By 1938, he was named solicitor general and, in 1940, attorney general. He spent a year in that job until FDR nominated him to the Supreme Court. His nomination was confirmed on July 7, 1941, just in time for Jackson to serve on the court throughout World War II and until his death in 1954. While hospitalized with the first of the heart attacks that would later kill him, Jackson left his bed and went down to the court so that there would be a full complement of justices when it delivered its unanimous decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954. He would be dead by October.
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