Former NY Senator James L. Buckley passes away at 100

By | August 22, 2023



death – Obituary News : The Buckley family has long been a prominent force in American politics, with their influence spanning several decades. Perhaps the most well-known contribution to the political landscape was the establishment of the National Review, a magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. However, it is worth noting that only one member of the Buckley family has held a significant elected position thus far. That distinction belongs to James L. Buckley, who had a remarkable and unique career that warrants exploration by historians.

Tragically, James L. Buckley passed away on August 18, 2023, according to reports from The Hill and CNN. The cause of his death was injuries sustained at his home in Washington, D.C., where he was subsequently taken to Sibley Memorial Hospital and, unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries. Earlier this year, Buckley reached the incredible milestone of his 100th birthday, which was commemorated by various individuals and organizations, including the National Review.

Buckley’s political journey began in 1965 when he managed his brother William’s campaign for the mayoral race in New York City. Regrettably, William, running as a member of the Conservative Party of New York State, finished a distant third, with Republican U.S. Representative John Lindsay emerging victorious. James himself made his first bid for the United States Senate three years later, also under the Conservative Party banner. However, he, too, ended up in third place, far behind the top two contenders, with Republican incumbent Jacob Javits retaining his seat.

Undeterred by these setbacks, Buckley ran for the Senate once again in 1970, this time emerging victorious in a three-way race. His triumph marked one of the most significant successes for a third-party candidate in American history. Initially, Buckley supported Republican U.S. President Richard Nixon, but he later called for Nixon’s resignation amidst the infamous Watergate scandal. Additionally, he became the lead petitioner in the groundbreaking case known as Buckley v. Valeo, a United States Supreme Court decision that continues to have a lasting impact on campaign financing.

Buckley’s third-party status eventually shifted in 1976 when he decided to seek the Republican nomination for his re-election bid. He easily defeated his primary opponent, U.S. Representative Peter A. Peyser, but unfortunately lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, former diplomat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan would go on to chair the Senate Committees on Finance and on the Environment and Public Works.

In 1980, James L. Buckley made another attempt at securing a U.S. Senate seat, this time in Connecticut, running as a Republican. However, he was soundly defeated by Democratic U.S. Representative Christopher Dodd, who would later chair three Senate committees and eventually serve as CEO of what is now the Motion Picture Association after his political career. In the following year, Buckley was appointed to the U.S. State Department as the undersecretary of international security affairs. Later on, he briefly held the role of the department’s counselor before eventually departing.


Continuing his distinguished career, Buckley assumed the presidency of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In 1985, he was appointed as a federal judge, serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Eventually, Buckley transitioned to senior status as a judge, ultimately retiring in 2000.

Before embarking on his political journey, James L. Buckley grew up in Manhattan, where the family primarily spoke Spanish as their first language. He received his education at the Millbrook School in Stanford, New York. During World War II, both James and William served as U.S. military officers, with William joining the Army and James enlisting in the Navy. As a sailor, Buckley participated in several significant engagements, including the Battle of Leyte, the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, and the Battle of Okinawa. He retired from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant junior grade.

Buckley went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and later obtained an additional degree from Yale Law School. In 1953, he married Ann Frances Cooley, and together they had six children. Sadly, Ann passed away in late 2011.

James L. Buckley leaves behind a legacy that extends far beyond his time in office. His impact on American politics, particularly through his involvement in the Conservative Party and his pivotal role in campaign financing, will continue to be felt for years to come. As we mourn his passing, we remember the remarkable achievements and contributions of this influential figure in American history..