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Stephen Breyer

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Stephen Breyer
Stephen Breyer.jpg
Current Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Associate Justice
Position:   Seat #3
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Approval vote:   87-9
Active:   8/3/1994-Present
Preceded by:   Harry Blackmun
Past post:   First Circuit
Past chief:   1990 - 1994
Past term:   1980-1994
Past position:   Seat #4
Personal History
Born:   August 15, 1938
Hometown:   San Francisco, CA
Undergraduate:   Stanford University, A.B., 1959
Oxford University, B.A., 1961
Law School:   Harvard Law, LL.B., 1964

Stephen Gerald Breyer is an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was appointed in 1994 by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Prior to appointment, Breyer served on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from 1980-1994, serving as Chief Judge for his last four years.[1] Stephen Breyer's brother is senior district court judge Charles Breyer.[2]

Judicial philosophy

In a review of his 2010 book, "Making Our Democracy Work, A Judge's View," Breyer argues that:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

The job of the Supreme Court is to apply the Constitution's values to modern circumstances, using the tools of judging: precedent, text and an assessment of the purpose of the constitutional provision at issue."[3]

For a full review of the book, in addition to a more detailed description, read: the article.

Early life and education

Breyer was born in San Francisco, California. Breyer's father was legal counsel for the San Francisco Board of Education.

Breyer went on to receive a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College at the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Harvard Law School.[4]

Professional career

Following a clerkship with Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg in 1964, Breyer became a law professor and lecturer at Harvard Law School starting in 1967. There he specialized in administrative law, writing a number of textbooks. He held other positions before being nominated for the Supreme Court, including Special Assistant to the United States Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, and Assistant Special Prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973.[5]

Judicial career

Justice Breyer's appearance on Legally Speaking - 2012

Justice Breyer's confirmation hearing - 1994

Supreme Court

In 1993, President Clinton considered Breyer for the seat vacated by Byron White that ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[6] Breyer's appointment came shortly thereafter, however, following the retirement of Harry Blackmun in 1994; Clinton nominated Breyer as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 17 of that year. Breyer was confirmed by the Senate in an 87 to 9 vote and took his seat August 3, 1994.[1]

Oath of office

Justice Breyer took the Constitutional and Judicial Oaths of Office on August 3, 1994 in Vermont. They were administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist.[7]

First Circuit

From 1980 to 1994, Justice Breyer served as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, including as the court's Chief Judge from 1990 to 1994. He was nominated to the Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter on November 13, 1980. The United States Senate confirmed Breyer on December 9, 1980 by an 80-10 vote, in the last days of the Carter administration. He served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States between 1990 and 1994 and the United States Sentencing Commission between 1985 and 1989.[8]

Supreme Court opinions

Opinions by year

Below is a table of the number of opinions, concurrences, dissents, and splits (concur in part, dissent in part) that Stephen Breyer has issued since joining the Supreme Court according to the data on Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.[9]

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Opinions 9 10 8 12 8 9 9 11 9 6 10 6 8 7 8 8 5 0 0
Concurrences 3 6 8 7 4 10 3 7 3 5 9 3 2 2 7 6 5 0 0
Dissents 7 3 11 7 4 10 11 6 4 10 5 8 6 10 10 6 12 1 0
Concur in part, Dissent in part 1 3 2 1 4 0 0 1 3 0 0 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0
Totals 20 22 29 27 20 29 23 25 19 21 24 20 19 21 27 21 23 1 0

Shoulder injury

On April 27, 2013, Justice Breyer fell off his bicycle while riding on the National Mall and broke his right shoulder. As a result, he had shoulder replacement surgery.[10]

Religious beliefs

During oral arguments in the 2013 case Town of Greece v. Galloway, Justice Breyer answered a question from Justice Scalia that lead observers to assume that Breyer is an atheist. The conversation went as follows:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

What is the equivalent of prayer for somebody who is not religious? --Justice Scalia

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Perhaps he's asking me that question and I can answer it later. --Justice Breyer

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA - new seat
First Circuit
Seat #4
Succeeded by:
Sandra Lea Lynch
Preceded by:
Harry Blackmun
Supreme Court
Seat #3
Succeeded by: