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 August 19, 2023

Former Senator James L. Buckley passes away at 100 years old

James L. Buckley, an outspoken conservative and former U.S. senator, died at 100 years old Friday morning, the Daily Caller reported. Buckley's political career is unique as he's one of the few who have served in all three branches of government.

Highlights of the Connecticut native's achievements included helping the Family Education Rights and Policy Act of 1974 get passed in Congress.  The federal law gave parents the right to access and amend their children's educational records and discretion on what could be disclosed.

His early life began in New York, where he was educated at the Millbrook School, Fox News reported. Buckley would go on to major in English at Yale and spent time in the Navy during World War II.

After earning his law degree at Yale Law School, he later became a corporate attorney. Buckley's political life took off in 1965 after he successfully helped his older brother, the late William F. Buckley, get elected governor of New York.

James Buckley went on to a successful political campaign of his own in 1970 when he became the U.S. Senator for New York on the Conservative Party ticket. At times Buckley's staunch conservative viewpoint put him at odds with the mainstream rightwing Republican Party.

Buckley called for President Richard Nixon to step down following the Watergate scandal. He believed Nixon should resign to rescue the nation "out of the Watergate swamp" and preserve the dignity of the office of the presidency.

That cost him his reelection as Buckley lost to Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the 1976 election. That same year, Buckley changed his affiliation to join the Republican Party.

Buckley also worked on the Supreme Court case regarding campaign finance and how it related to freedom of speech in politics. The case Buckley v. Valeo resulted in a landmark decision that found campaign finance restrictions to be unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, restrictions on how and how much candidates spend their money later came via the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. Still, Buckley's contributions to the conservative movement went far beyond a single court case.

Buckley served as undersecretary of state during President Ronald Reagan's administration and later headed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He would also go on to serve 15 years as a federal judge after Reagan appointed him.

The legacy he left behind endures today as the modern Conservative Party remembered Buckley as "a man for all seasons" for whom they felt an "enormous debt and gratitude," CNN reported.  "The life and accomplishments of James Buckley will forever be linked with the Conservative Party," the New York chapter's chairman Gerard Kassar said in the statement.

"All New Yorkers and the nation has lost a man who spent most of his long life in service to his country," Kassar added. There's no doubt the centenarian did just that.

Buckley was the kind of unapologetic conservative that just doesn't exist anymore. He introduced a constitutional amendment to ban abortion during his time in the Senate when the political trends were against him and never wavered from his principles.

James and William F. Buckley, who founded the National Review, arguably laid the groundwork for conservative media in America with their intellectual approach to debating the issues. Both men are now gone, but what they built lives on.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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