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Stephen G. Breyer

(1938 - )

Stephen Gerald Breyer is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Born in San Francisco, California on August 15, 1938, to Anne A. and Irving Gerald Breyer, Stephen was raised in a middle-class Jewish family. In 1955, he graduated from Lowell High School and during his high school career debated with future California Governor Jerry Brown and Professor Laurence Tribe.

In 1967. Breyer married Joanna Freda Hare, a British psychiatrist. 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 from 1965-1967; as an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973; as Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1974–1975; and as Chief Counsel of the committee from 1979-1980.

Breyer was Assistant Professor, Professor of Law, and Lecturer at Harvard Law School from 1967–1994; taught at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government from 1977–1980, and was 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 Breyer as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court after Justice Harry Blackmun reitred; he was confirmed by the Senate with 87 votes. Breyer took his seat on August 3, 1994.

Breyer has said, “Justice is so central to Judaism” and quoted Deuteronomy. “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” He added: “Throughout the Torah, throughout the books that compose it, and throughout the history of the Jewish people, you see considerable interest and placing of great importance on the ability of human beings to live in this world together, peacefully, and harmoniously… Of course other religions have the same idea, but I think Judaism emphasizes that. And that, to me, is what law is about.”

Justice Breyer lives with his wife and the couple has three children, Chloe, Nell, and Michael.

Sources: Supreme Court of the United States;
JewishInsider, (June 16, 2020).

This article was written with the assistance of Eli Nirenberg from Munster, Indiana.

Photo: Public Domain.