Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Stephen G. BreyerStephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15, 1938) is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1994, and known for his pragmatic approach to constitutional law, Breyer is generally associated with the more liberal side of the Court.

Following a clerkship with Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg in 1964, Breyer became well-known as a law professor and lecturer at Harvard Law School starting in 1967. There he specialized in the area of administrative law, writing a number of influential text books that remain in use today. He held other prominent 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. In his 2005 book Active Liberty, Breyer made his first attempt to systematically lay out his views on legal theory, arguing that the judiciary should seek to resolve issues so as best to encourage popular participation in governmental decisions.

From 1980 to 1994, 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 U.S. 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. On the sentencing commission, Breyer played a key role in reforming federal criminal sentencing procedures, producing the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which were formulated to increase uniformity in sentences for criminal cases.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton considered him for the seat vacated by Byron White that ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Breyer's appointment came shortly thereafter, however, following the retirement of Harry Blackmun in 1994, and Clinton nominated Breyer as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 13 of that year. Breyer was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in an 87 to 9 vote and took his seat August 3, 1994.¹

Stephen G. Breyer Quotes

"Every citizen has to figure out what kind of government he or she wants."
"There are loads of countries that have nice written constitutions like ours. But there aren't loads of countries where they're followed."

"You will read in the newspaper more often about federal courts, but the law that affects people, the trials that affect human beings are by and large in the state courts."

"Independence means you decide according to the law and the facts."

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