The University of Mississippi School of Law recently hosted a luncheon with former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James L. “Jimmy” Robertson. Justice Robertson discussed his time on the Mississippi Supreme Court, his relationship with the renowned scholar Myres McDougal (LL.B. 1929), as well as his recent donation of two of McDougal’s books to the Law School: Law and Public Order in Space (1963) with Professor Harold D. Lasswell and Professor Ivan A. Vlasic, the first comprehensive exposition regarding the earth-space arena and the astrophysical world, and Jurisprudence for a Free Society, Studies in Law, Science and Policy (1992, two volumes), also with Professor Lasswell.
The latter is considered the magnum opus of McDougal and Lasswell. Both works are inscribed and autographed by McDougal and were donated for use by faculty, scholars, students, and the public.
“Both Professor Myres Smith McDougal and Justice Jimmy Robertson have made indelible contributions to Mississippi and to our law school,” said Associate Dean Michele Alexandre. “We are honored by Justice Robertson’s donation. We are extremely proud that Professor McDougal’s groundbreaking books will be housed in our library.”
Justice Robertson received his B.A. from the University of Mississippi in 1962 and his J.D. from Harvard University in 1965. He served on the Supreme Court of Mississippi from 1983-1992. Robertson began teaching Admiralty and Maritime Law at Ole Miss Law in Spring 1977. He became a full-time faculty member in 1979, teaching Jurisprudence and Legal Process. Robertson continued teaching Jurisprudence and Legal Process on Fridays while serving on the Supreme Court.
“The Law School was honored to have Justice Robertson deliver such a fascinating lecture on Myres McDougal, who is considered a pioneer in the legal field,” said Susan Duncan, dean of the law school. “His generosity through the donation of these books will benefit our community for years to come.”
Professor McDougal was a Mississippi native and a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. He received his B.C.L degree in 1930 from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his doctor of laws degree from Yale in 1931. In 1935, McDougal became a full-time faculty member at Yale and was eventually named the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law. He taught at Yale for over 40 years.
McDougal was a classmate of Justice Robertson’s mother at Ole Miss, which is how the two formed their connection. During a visit back to Ole Miss in 1996 when he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, McDougal referred to Justice Robertson as “the son of one of my favorite classmates, Susie Mae Lawton, and a past and probable future justice of the State of Mississippi.”
According to Robertson, he made this gift “in honor of Professor McDougal and Susie Mae Lawton Robertson, his college classmate – and my mother – and of all who, as these two did, strive to further human dignity, the greatest value known to the ordered existence of peoples throughout the world and beyond, excepting none.
“May others learn, as I have, from the lives, teachings and examples of these two members of the University’s Class of 1926.”