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Stephen Breyer

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Justice Stephen Breyer
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Justice Stephen Breyer

Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15, 1938) has been a US Supreme Court Associate Justice since 1994.

Breyer was born in San Francisco, California. He married Joanna Hare in 1967, and has three children Chloe, Nell, and Michael. He graduated from Lowell High School and received an A.B. from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College, University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, 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, 1965-1967, as an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973, as Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1974-1975, and as Chief Counsel of the committee, 1979-1980.

He was an Assistant Professor, Professor of Law, and Lecturer at Harvard Law School, 1967-1994, a Professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, 1977-1980, and a Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Sydney, Australia and at the University of Rome. At Harvard, Breyer was known as a leading expert on administrative law.

From 1980 to 1994, he served as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as its Chief Judge from 1990 to 1994. He also 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.

President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in an 87 to 9 vote and he took his seat August 3, 1994.

On the bench, Breyer generally takes a pragmatic approach to constitutional issues, interested more in producing coherence and continuity in the law than in following doctrinal, historical, or textual strictures. Breyer has compiled a generally moderate record on the Court. He is a strong defender of abortion rights and has also urged that the Supreme Court cite international law in its decision. However, Breyer is also deferential to the interests of law enforcement and urges that the Court be deferential to legislative judgments in its First Amendment rulings.

Breyer is well-known for his personal writing style in which he never uses footnotes in his opinions; he feels that keeping all citations inline results in better writing, since one cannot stuff in all kinds of marginally relevant material into footnotes.

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Preceded by:
Harry Blackmun
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
August 3, 1994 – present (a)
Succeeded by:

Template:Succession footnote Template:End box

Template:US-SupCourt-Justices

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