December 12, 1996
University Gazette


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Louis L. Jaffe, Administrative Law Professor Emeritus, Dies at 90

Louis L. Jaffe, Byrne Professor of Administrative Law Emeritus and a leading scholar of administrative law, died Dec. 11, at a nursing home in Norwood, Mass. He was 90 years old and had resided in Cambridge for the past 20 years since his retirement in 1976.

"Professor Jaffe was a significant force in the postwar development of Harvard Law School," said Law School Dean Robert Clark. "He played a major role in the creation of the field of administrative law. As a former student of Professor Jaffe, I personally can attest to the skill and the unique style that he brought to the classroom."

"Louis Jaffe was one of the giants of Harvard Law School," added colleague Clark Byse, Byrne Professor of Administrative Law Emeritus., not only in his field, administrative law, where he was one of the three outstanding scholars of his time, but in other fields like torts and legislation."

Jaffe joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1950 and became one of the School's most prolific writers both in administrative law and in tort law. His analysis of the role of courts in the review of administrative agencies, particularly the Federal Communication Commission (which regulated the then developing television industry), gained him national recognition. The U.S. Supreme Court frequently cited his arguments and positions on the scope and nature of judicial review of agency decisions.

Jaffe was born in Seattle in 1905, the son of a small businessman, and spent his youth in San Francisco. He graduated at the age of 19 from Johns Hopkins University with no particular direction in mind, but soon found his niche at Harvard Law School. He became an editor of the Harvard Law Review and ranked third in the graduating Class of 1928. On the recommendation of Professor Felix Frankfurter, he became a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Despite his achievements, Jaffe, upon completion of his clerkship in 1931 at the height of the Depression, became unemployed. He completed an S.J.D. degree at Harvard Law School in 1932, and then, like many lawyers of his day, was rescued by the New Deal. In 1934 he became an attorney with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, one of the New Deal's earliest and most comprehensive regulatory agencies. In 1935 he joined the National Labor Relations Board as an attorney.

In 1936 Jaffe became professor at the University of Buffalo School of Law, and in 1948 became Dean of the school.

Jaffe moved to Harvard in 1950 and began work on a treatise on administrative law, published in 1965 as Judicial Control of Administrative Action. His work on the scope of judicial review, and the distinction between questions of law and questions of fact, was of almost philosophic dimension, and was widely cited by other scholars and by judges. Judicial Control, as well as his coauthored casebook, Administrative Law: Cases and Materials, also became standards for law students in many law schools throughout the country.

He became a commentator and expert adviser on issues involving regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Aviation Commission, and the Federal Communication Commission.

Jaffe was also an insatiable reader and an enthusiast of the arts, particularly those of Italian Renaissance origin.

He married Mildred Dunbar Miles, the daughter of a prominent Buffalo business family, herself a barrister of the English courts. Jaffe is survived by his two children, Deborah Yeomans of Dedham, and Miles Jaffe of Cambridge; two grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at the Memorial Church on a date to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Professor Jaffe's memory may be made to the Chilmark Library, Chilmark, MA 02535.


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