Stephen Breyer

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As of May, 2004, one the currently serving U.S. Supreme Court justices. Appointed by President Bill Clinton and confirmed 87-9 by the Senate. Considered the most moderate of the Court's four liberals.

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Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15, 1938) has been an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1994.

Born in San Francisco, California, Breyer married Joanna Hare in 1967, with whom he has three children: Chloe, Nell, and Michael. Breyer graduated from Lowell High School and received an A.B. in Philosophy from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College of the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School.

He served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg 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 Bill Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left after the retirement of Harry Blackmun in 1994. Breyer was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in an 87 to 9 vote and 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, though he most frequently sides with Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He has consistently voted in favor of abortion rights, which is one of the most controversial areas of the Supreme Court's docket. He has also urged that the Supreme Court cite international law in its decisions. 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, more readable writing.


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