Justice Stephen Breyer

The Honorable Stephen Breyer is a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Born in San Francisco in 1938, he is a graduate of Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard Law School. 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 Supreme Court law clerk (for Justice Arthur Goldberg), a Justice Department lawyer (antitrust division), an Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor, and Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1980, he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by President Carter, becoming Chief Judge in 1990. In 1994, he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton. He has written books and articles about a range of legal topics, including administrative law, economic regulation, and the U.S. Constitution.  His books include Active Liberty (2005), Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View (2010), The Court and the World (2015), and The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics (2021). His wife, Joanna, was born in Great Britain and is a retired clinical psychologist. They have three children—Chloe, Nell, and Michael—and six grandchildren.



Widely known and applauded for his realistic, common-sense approach to the law and his ability to work with both parties, Stephen Breyer, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2022, is a longtime friend of the Conference. Breyer will return for SVWC 2024 to tell us about his latest book, Reading the Constitution; Why I Chose Pragmatism, not Textualism, to be released in March 2024.


Photo credit – The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States