A Discussion About the Supreme Court

A Discussion About the Supreme Court

Honorable Stephen Breyer

3.14.2006

Honorable Stephen Breyer

Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice, was born in San Francisco, California, August 15, 1938. He married Joanna Hare in 1967, and has three children - Chloe, Nell, and Michael. He received an A.B. from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Justice Arthur Goldberg of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1964 Term, as a Special Assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Antitrust, 1965–1967, as an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973, as Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1974–1975, and as Chief Counsel of the committee, 1979–1980. He was an Assistant Professor, Professor of Law, and Lecturer at Harvard Law School, 1967–1994, a Professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, 1977–1980, and a Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Sydney, Australia and at the University of Rome. From 1980–1990, he served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as its Chief Judge, 1990–1994. He also served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990–1994, and of the United States Sentencing Commission, 1985–1989. President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994.

Clinton School Founding Dean Pryor interviews Justice Stephen Breyer about his experiences on the U.S. Supreme Court. Breyer shares the story about his confirmation to the court. He recalls learning of his nomination through an announcement on television and said that it was a very moving experience. In making decisions on the bench, Breyer says that he uses as sources such as text, history, tradition, precedent, values, purposes, and consequences, all of which he says are influential in the process. Breyer also talks about drawing on his own experiences as he weighs controversial decisions. When asked about enforcement of rights during wartime, Breyer says he believes that the Constitution is the law of the land in times of peace and times of war. In a discussion about cameras in the courtroom, Breyer states that it is important that people understand how the court works, but there is concern from the bench that the presence of cameras could damage the institution.