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Associate Supreme Court Judge Stephen Breyer

I am a retired family man with 3 children and 9 grandchildren. Unfortunately, after a long illness, my wife passed leaving me a widower.

Associate Justice Stephen Breyer


Early Life

US Supreme Court Associate Judge Stephen Breyer was born on August 15, 1938 in San Francisco California . At a young age, he and his family moved to Washington DC where he attended the elite St. Albans School.


He then went on to graduate from Harvard University summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa where he graduated with distinction as valedictorian of his class. He would go on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and received first-class honors in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics).

Upon returning home from his education abroad, Justice Breyer began studying law at Harvard Law School where he served as a studying an education at Oxford University as a Nuffield Fellow . While working part-time, he received his Bachelor of Civil Law degree , once again graduating first in his class and earning the honor of Note & Comment Editor of the Law Quarterly Review .

The US Supreme Court as of January 2022



Justice Breyer applied for law clerk to Justice Arthur Goldberg who served on the United States Supreme Court. After completing his year long clerkship with Justice Goldberg, he returned to Harvard where he became assistant professor there until 1967 when he moved over to teach at Boston College Law School. While teaching, he would go on to serve as chief consultant for education for all judges serving on the US Court of Appeals back in Washington DC. He would remain in education until his appointment to the US Court of Appeals.

Judicial Career

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter nominated Justice Breyer as United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit where he served until 1994 when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be a member of the Second Circuit Judicial Conference. As well, Justice Breyer served on the United States Sentencing Commission from 1985-1987 and received a number of awards for his work there.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton once again offered him a nomination to become a federal circuit judge this time for the First Circuit Court of Appeals where he served until being nominated by President Barack Obama to be an Associate Judge at the US Supreme Court . He was confirmed by unanimous consent in an 87 to 9 vote.

Justice Breyer has received numerous awards, including the Award for Distinguished Jurist in Public Service from American College of Trial Lawyers, Julius M. Matter Award , Learned Hand Medal of the Federal Bar Council , Albert Schweitzer Medal for Humanitarianism, and Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa degree by University of King's College . He also holds honorary degrees from universities such as Princeton University , Georgetown University Law Center , New York University School of Law , Columbia University School of Law , Brandeis University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law .

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During his career, Justice Breyer was a member on three First Circuit panels that heard en banc cases but did not participate because he had already heard the case. Breyer sat on the panel that affirmed denial of injunctive relief to homeless plaintiffs in Pottinger v. City of Miami . In 1999, he was a member of the Second Circuit panel that reviewed and affirmed a district court's decision not to release a prisoner who alleged inadequate medical care for his back pain. The petitioner sought an injunction from the United States District Court for Southern New York but after his appeal, Justice Breyer ruled that the lower court did not abuse its discretion by denying a temporary injunction.

In 2000, Justice Breyer was one of three judges on a First Circuit panel that upheld convictions but reversed sentences in cases involving race-based jury selection, double jeopardy and federal criminal procedure. He was also a part of the Second Circuit panel that, in 2000, heard and dismissed an appeal from an order denying class certification in a case regarding the education rights of children with limited English for failure to show errors

In 2011, Justice Breyer was part of a Ninth Circuit panel that held that trademark owners can seek damages from illegal streaming and distribution of copyrighted material if they provide evidence and prove likelihood of confusionon

In 2008, Justice Breyer was one of two judges on a First Circuit panel that upheld dismissal of claims against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over alleged mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay on jurisdictional grounds. The plaintiffs were detained as enemy combatants at Guantanamo but were not allowed to challenge their detentions until months later when Rumsfeld personally intervened . Justice Breyer ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction because no "actual or imminent" injury had been done and thus failed to meet the standing requirement.

In 2009, Justice Breyer dissented in part on a Second Circuit panel's decision regarding the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment requiring universities to allow recruiters on campus. The court ruled that the Solomon Amendment, which required education institutions receiving federal funding including law schools to provide equal access for military recruitment , violated First Amendment rights. Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent, "Recruitment is education, education is speech, and according this statute, recruiters speaking about the military does not - cannot - get a fair shake at the law school."

In 2009, while serving as an appellate judge on Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Breyer was part of a panel that dismissed claims that President Barack Obama 's health care reform was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs argued that under Article I Section 7 of the Constitution the Senate had to have a two-thirds quorum before voting on the Affordable Care Act. The panel ruled unanimously that the Senate had a quorum when they passed the bill in 2009 and dismissed the claim

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Breyer worked for several years as chief counsel of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) . He also served as Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force and then, from 1979 to 1980, served as chief counsel of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary . In February 1994 he was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by a 10:9 vote (with five Republicans joining all Democrats) to serve on US Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit

Personal Life

He married Joanna Hare in 1967 and the couple has 3 children- Chloe, Nell, and Michael.


On January 26th, it was announced that Justice Breyer would retire at the end of the current session of the Supreme Court. That would make it almost certain that President Joe Biden would be able to select a replacement before the mid-term elections and likely get a confirmation. There has been controversy because Biden campaigned on the promise that he would nominate a black woman to the court.While Liberals celebrate this news, Conservatives find this to be pandering the the minority electorate and limiting his options for picking a good candidate.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Mike Bouska

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