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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Speaks at Yale Law School--Lecture Videos Available for Viewing


MONDAY'S LECTURE: History: Challenges the Court Has Faced

TUESDAY'S LECTURE: Future: Will the People Follow the Court?


The Honorable Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was at Yale Law School on Monday, February 15, and Tuesday, February 16, to discuss the topic, “Making the Constitution Work: A Supreme Court Justice’s View.”

Justice Breyer spoke Monday evening to an overflow crowd of Yale University community members and special guests in the Yale Law School auditorium. He was introduced by Yale President Richard Levin, who recalled following in the illustrious footsteps of the Justice and his brother Charles at Lowell High School in San Francisco. The title of the Monday talk was “History: Challenges the Court Has Faced.”

Yale Law School Dean Robert Post ’77 hosted Tuesday’s lecture, “Future: Will the People Follow the Court?” and Potter Stewart Professor of Constitutional Law Paul Gewirtz ’70 introduced the Justice. This lecture was open to the Yale Law School community and special guests.

“This is an extraordinary event,” said Dean Robert Post. “It is extremely unusual for a sitting Justice to give formal lectures to an audience and it is a tremendous honor for Yale.” 

The lectures were based on a book Justice Breyer is currently completing and addressed the Supreme Court’s role in helping to make the American Constitution work well in practice. They discussed key moments in the Court’s history that illustrate the importance of public acceptance of the Court’s decisions, as well as challenges the Court has faced in achieving such public acceptance. Justice Breyer also shared his thoughts on what the Court must do in the future to make the Constitution work well in practice and to maintain the public trust it has earned.

Justice Breyer has been a member of the High Court since 1994. Prior to that, he served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit since 1980 and was its Chief Judge from 1990–1994. He taught law for many years as a professor at Harvard Law School and at the Kennedy School of Government. He has also worked as a Justice Department lawyer in the antitrust division, an Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor, and Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has written books and articles about administrative law and economic regulation, and most recently, Active Liberty, a book about the Constitution.

He holds an A.B. from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School.