A respected expert in the fields of administrative, antitrust, and environmental law, Breyer has been widely recognized to be a pragmatic and conciliatory justice, even as he has usually voted with the liberal wing of the Court.
Raised in a middle-class, politically active Jewish family in San Francisco, Stephen G. Breyer was an outstanding student and successful debater in high school. He earned bachelor’s degrees from both Stanford and Oxford Universities. While attending Harvard Law School, he served as editor for its law review. After graduating magna cum laude 1964, he worked as a clerk for Supreme Court justice Arthur J. Goldberg.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter
On the bench, Breyer’s approach to constitutional issues has been pragmatic and moderately left of center. He explains his perspective in Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution (2005), which in some ways is a refutation of Justice Antonin Scalia’s
Breyer could also be counted on to join the liberal justices in cases involving equal protection and affirmative action. In Adarand Constructors v. Peña
Breyer has been highly critical of the more conservative justices’ interpretations on the Tenth Amendment
The respective positions were reversed in the case of Bush v. Gore
Breyer has shown a special interest in technical and arcane cases. Given his expertise in administrative law, it is surprising that he was chosen to write the opinion for the Court in Dickinson v. Zurko
Although identified with the liberal wing of the Court, Breyer regularly advocated an examination of each case on its merits with an elimination of ideological bias to the extent possible. He has always avoided dogmatism and his language has never been caustic. He has enjoyed giving speeches and has frequently appeared in television interviews. Despite the workload of the Court, he has continued to find time to write articles and books for publication.
Breyer, Stephen G. Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution. New York: Knopf, 2005. Expresses his relatively liberal views on jurisprudence. Deegan, Paul. Stephen Breyer. Minneapolis: Abdo, 1996. Gottlieb, Stephen. Morality Imposed: the Rehnquist Court and the State of Liberty in America. New York: New York University Press, 2000. Hensley, Thomas R. The Rehnquist Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2006. Perry, Barbara. The Supremes: Essays on the Current Justices of the Supreme Court. New York: P. Lang, 2001.
Blackmun, Harry A.
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale
Bush v. Gore
Right to die
Goldberg, Arthur J.
Gratz v. Bollinger/Grutter v. Bollinger