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Alisa (mstaz) This thread is about Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer and all related topics.

President Clinton's second nomination to the Supreme Court is a man of difficult descriptions. Contradictory in many ways, Stephen Gerald Breyer defied simple classification, as a man and as a judge. The first son of a middle-class San Francisco Jewish family, Breyer eventually married into a well-established family of the British aristocracy. Though he possessed enormous wealth, he nonetheless lived a relatively simple life, riding the bus to work and mowing his own lawn. His peculiarities did not end with his personal life, but extended to his bench practice as well. As an appeals court judge, Breyer upheld parental notification for teenage abortions and rejected federal guidelines that prevented health officials at public clinics from advising abortion. A strong proponent of cutting government regulation, Breyer often justified his position, not as beneficial for business, but as being in the interest of the people. This sentimentalism could be viewed cynically. But in Breyer's case, however, these sentiments are genuine and reflect a pragmatic view with many mismatched results.

Stephen Gerald Breyer was born on August 15, 1938 in San Francisco, California. Only one generation from poverty, Breyer's middle-class family lived frugally. Breyer's father, Irving Breyer, worked as a lawyer and legal counsel for the San Francisco Board of Education. His mother, Anne, spent most of her time as a volunteer for the San Francisco Democratic Party and for the League of Women Voters. Although Breyer's parents sent him and his brother to religious school, the family did not observe their Jewish faith strictly. Instead, his parents pushed Breyer towards academic success. Anne Breyer also encouraged young Stephen to be well-rounded and avoid becoming overly bookish. She insisted that Breyer play sports even though he demonstrated little athletic ability. At a camp one summer, Breyer won the nickname Blister King for his tender feet. Still, Stephen Breyer persevered and achieved modest success. At age 12, he attained Eagle Scout and became known as the "troop brain."

Breyer and his brother attended academically prestigious Lowell High School, a magnet academy of the San Francisco public school system. In high school, Breyer participated actively in the debate team and competed against other notables such as future California governor Jerry Brown. School came easily for Breyer and he completed high school with only one B. By the time of his graduation, he accumulated many debating, math, and science awards and his class elected him as the "most likely to succeed." Both Harvard and Stanford accepted Breyer, and though Breyer preferred the former, he bowed to his parent's wishes and chose the latter. His mother had hoped to steer Breyer away from a narrow academic focus. At Stanford, Breyer achieved his mother's wishes more than she would have liked perhaps, when he was arrested for underage drinking. After Stanford, Breyer won a Marshall Scholarship to attend Oxford. There he picked up an interest in economics, which influenced his perspective as a judge. Breyer studied law at Harvard where he distinguished himself as an editor of the law review.

Justice Arthur Goldberg selected Breyer as his clerk for the 1964-65 term of the Supreme Court. Breyer helped Goldberg draft an opinion in the landmark right-to-privacy case, Griswold v. Connecticut. Although Goldberg's opinion argued for a right to privacy rooted in the Ninth Amendment, little evidence tied this belief to Breyer. After Breyer completed his clerkship at the Supreme Court, he worked in the Justice Department's anti-trust division for several years. During this time, in 1967, Breyer met his future wife, Joanna Hare, the daughter of England's Lord John Blakenham. At the time, Hare worked as an assistant in the Washington office of London's Sunday Times. Breyer married Joanna in England in an Anglican ceremony, carefully edited to remove references to Christ. His marriage greatly increased his personal wealth and Breyer soon left the Justice Department and returned to Harvard to teach regulatory law. His wife became a psychologist at Boston's Dana Farber Clinic. The Breyers enjoyed a comfortable life among the Cambridge intellectual elite and raised two daughters, Chloe and Nell, and a son, Michael. Breyer worked for a few months as an aide to Archibald Cox in the Watergate prosecutions. In 1974, Breyer accepted Massachusetts Senator Kennedy's invitation to work as legal counsel to the Judiciary Committee. In his time there, Breyer established a reputation for competence and fairness among the senators which may partially explain his smooth confirmation to the High Court years later.

During his tenure as counsel for the Judiciary Committee, Breyer worked hard to end governmental regulation of the airline industry. Breyer's complicated economic solution and efforts resulted in airline deregulation. Breyer's position and dedication already won him enough Republican supporters so that he received a seat on the federal appeals court with Ronald Reagan as president. Years later, Breyer once again influenced policy when he joined the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1985. Sentencing guidelines became one of this century's biggest and most controversial debates in criminal justice. Breyer's work served as the basis for praise and criticism years later during his nomination. His supporters pointed to his hard work and told stories of the intensely focused Breyer forgetting to change shirts. Another story claimed that Breyer, so concentrated on his work, failed to notice that his co-workers had planted goldfish in his water cooler. His detractors, on the other hand, emphasized Breyer's technocratic tendencies and his apparent lack of focus for the common people. Among his opponents, most accused him of siding too often with the big businesses over the people in his history as a judge. Others criticized his sentencing scheme, which they alleged to have racially disparate impacts.

Still, Breyer's nomination proceeded relatively unopposed. President Clinton considered Breyer originally in his first nomination, but found Breyer dry and unfriendly, so he opted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead. In the second time around, Clinton picked Breyer. Breyer's supporters convinced the president that he had misjudged Breyer and urged Clinton to give him another chance. Breyer's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he once served, went off without a hitch. Only Senator Howard Metzenbaum pushed him on his pro-business stand, although Metzenbaum had gone on record for Breyer's nomination. Breyer's substantial investments posed potential conflict-of- interest problems, but the issue quickly defused. Breyer followed the path of his contemporary judges in refusing to answer questions relating to specific issues, arguing that he did not wish to bias future cases. Thus with powerful supporters in Senators Hatch and Kennedy and little opposition, Breyer became the 108th Supreme Court Justice in 1994.

Personal Information
Monday, August 15, 1938

Childhood Location

Childhood Surroundings

Associate Justice


Nominated By

Commissioned on
Monday, August 1, 1994

Sworn In
Tuesday, August 2, 1994


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message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Books about:

Making Our Democracy Work A Judge's View by Stephen Breyer by Stephen Breyer Stephen Breyer
Charged with the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the awesome power to strike down laws enacted by our elected representatives. Why does the public accept the Court’s decisions as legitimate and follow them, even when those decisions are highly unpopular? What must the Court do to maintain the public’s faith? How can it help make our democracy work?

In this groundbreaking book, Justice Stephen Breyer tackles these questions and more, offering an original approach to interpreting the Constitution that judges, lawyers, and scholars will look to for many years to come.

Active Liberty Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution by Stephen Breyer by Stephen Breyer Stephen Breyer
A brilliant new approach to the Constitution and courts of the United States by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.For Justice Breyer, the Constitution’s primary role is to preserve and encourage what he calls “active liberty”: citizen participation in shaping government and its laws. As this book argues, promoting active liberty requires judicial modesty and deference to Congress; it also means recognizing the changing needs and demands of the populace. Indeed, the Constitution’s lasting brilliance is that its principles may be adapted to cope with unanticipated situations, and Breyer makes a powerful case against treating it as a static guide intended for a world that is dead and gone. Using contemporary examples from federalism to privacy to affirmative action, this is a vital contribution to the ongoing debate over the role and power of our courts.

Breaking the Vicious Circle Toward Effective Risk Regulation by Stephen Breyer by Stephen Breyer Stephen Breyer
Reads like one of those intellectually exciting lectures for which some professors become so well known that their courses are fittingly oversubscribed every year. The style is clear and the analysis is dotted with the kind of provocative questions at the heart of this debate: how much regulation is enough, how much is too much, and the ultimate question, what is the dollar value of a life?
--Neil A. Lewis (New York Times Book Review )

An eloquent meditation on how to regulate perilous activities in a world that cannot afford to reduce risk to zero.
--Peter Passell (New York Times )

Breyer takes the reader by the hand through what he calls a 'vicious circle' of skewed public perception, congressional reaction, and scientific uncertainty to show why the U.S. has been unable to balance the cost of regulating substances with the benefit of protecting the public...Breyer's book gives the public an understandable introduction to the complexity of regulating health risks.
--Mary Beth Regan (Business Week )

One of the more trenchant proposals yet for what might constitute the next leg on the endless journey toward legislative reform...A clear and thoughtful meditation on how to build a better government, by taking the nature of the press, politics and scientific knowledge into account.
--David Warsh (Boston Sunday Globe )

[Breyer's] discussion of the inconsistencies in our current approach to environmental regulation is a tour de force, confidently integrating science and policy in terms easily accessible to the intelligent layman... Breyer's analysis surely can illuminate.
--Stephen F. Williams (Michigan Law Review )

Regulation and Its Reform by Stephen Breyer by Stephen Breyer Stephen Breyer
This book will become the bible of regulatory reform. No broad, authoritative treatment of the subject has been available for many years except for Alfred Kahn's Economics of Regulation (197O). And Stephen Breyer's book is not merely a utilitarian analysis or a legal discussion of procedures; it employs the widest possible perspective to survey the full implications of government regulation—economic, legal, administrative, political—while addressing the complex problems of administering regulatory agencies.

Only a scholar with Judge Breyer's practical experience as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee could have accomplished this task. He develops an ingenious original system for classifying regulatory activities according to the kinds of problems that have called for, or have seemed to call for, regulation; he then examines how well or poorly various regulatory regimes remedy these market defects. This enables him to organize an enormous amount of material in a coherent way, and to make significant and useful generalizations about real-world problems.

Among the regulatory areas he considers are health and safety; environmental pollution, trucking, airlines, natural gas, public utilities, and telecommunications. He further gives attention to related topics such as cost-of-service ratemaking, safety standards, antitrust, and property rights. Clearly this is a book whose time is here—a veritable how-to-do-it book for administration deregulators, legislators, and the judiciary; and because it is comprehensive and superbly organized, with a wealth of highly detailed examples, it is practical for use in law schools and in courses on economics and political science.

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Stephen Breyer on Globalization and the Supreme Court

Stephen Gerald Breyer is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed in 1994, Breyer is often regarded as more liberal than most other members of the court. He is highly regarded across the political spectrum for his pragmatic, rather than ideological, approach to the Constitution. In Bush v. Gore, which settled the controversial 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, he issued a widely respected dissent which criticized those who would decide the case on the basis of equal protection. Breyer, a Rhodes Scholar, was educated at Stanford, Oxford and Harvard. He is the author of Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation. Ideas recorded at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival on: 7/5/07

Here is the video:

Justice O’Connor and I were in India on 9/11. We had _______ there. We were meeting with their judicial . . . with judges of their Supreme Court. We arrived on that very day. On that very day. And of course the people there were horrified, and there was a tremendous outpouring of support, and people couldn’t have been nicer. And, but it was a time of thought for me. And really, it seemed to me . . . and I mention it because what was in our minds after a week there – we spent a week there – that the world is really divided into what I think of as the forces of reason and the forces of non-reason. And the forces of reason . . . well law is part of that. Law is part of it. Judges are part of it. Lawyers are part of it, and so is everybody else on . . . you know . . . other professions. The forces of non-reason, that’s the risk. That’s the danger. So I rather see that as something that’s unifying people across the world. Because people across the world do believe in democratic systems. They do believe in protecting basic human rights. They do believe in trying to create economies that will make their people prosperous. And they believe to a considerable degree in international settlement disputes. Things like that, too. But there are forces that they have to fight against which are obvious. So that’s in my mind. Maybe that’s how I was brought up, too. That was after World War II _______ cooperation. But as you look out today, and also I’d say my experience tells me that in a way, it’s like this . . . somebody weaving a loom. I mean I’m not a political figure. I’m not in politics. And I don’t . . . and people who do . . . are in politics and in very high levels in government may see these international institutions and global politics going on at a very high level. But I say to the lawyers and judges who are technical people, who are professionals, and at our level, whatever happens at the other, there’s a kind of knitting going on. It’s like workers at a loom. It’s happening in Europe. It’s happening in Africa. It’s happening in Asia. People are learning from each other, particularly in law. How does it happen? It happens in conferences. People talk to each other. Judges talk to each other. Lawyers talk to each other. It happens as different groups try to create laws. For example in Europe, they’re trying to create commercial laws, and bankruptcy laws, and tax laws, and laws that will govern several what were independent . . . . they are independent nations, but they’re trying to get together. And this is happening at the World Trade Organization. It’s happening across the world. It’s popularly called “globalization”. But what it involves are people in business, people in law, learning what each other are doing. And they adjust their laws accordingly. It doesn’t always have to be formal. We used to have a group called the Uniform Law Commissioners. And they’d go from state to state, and they’d say, “California does this.” And they’d go to Iowa, and they’d say, “Iowa, you know California does this. Maybe you should try it.” And that kind of thing goes on every minute as we speak. And then there are different organizations developing like the World Trade Organization. There are dozens of them. And there are free trade areas. There are health organizations. There are communications organizations. There’s the Internet. There are all these things we know about. They are all forces working to bring us together. So what I see as happening – and it’s not a political matter – what I see as happening is people who are lawyers and judges in America today have to be aware. And they have to have a system of being aware about what’s going on elsewhere. Because the cases in front of them will more and more depend on what’s happening elsewhere. Recorded on: 7/5/2007 at The Aspen Ideas Festival


What forces have shaped humanity the most?


Eventually people will get, I suppose, population under control. But there is a large and growing number of people. They all have to be fed. They all have to be housed. They have to learn. They’re all gonna have families, we hope. They’re all going to have lives. Each one of them is an individual life. And as you have more and more, the great positive thing is people . . . they’re . . . it’s religion, if you like; but people have within them the capacity for great good and for terrible things. And societies come together, churches come together, philosophers come together, people come together with sets of behaviors which we try to teach children so that they’ll get those bad instincts under control. And so we’ll bring out the good ones. And if you’re gonna bring out the good ones, people are capable of marvelous things. I mean just tremendous organization. So that’s why I thought India was so interesting, because I thought, “My goodness. It’s like a microcosm.” And here we have the points of light, and the dangers of darkness. And of course we all know now we can destroy the whole planet. It’s possible. It’s possible. And yet we’re working . . . and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about these different organizations – whether they’re local, or whether they’re national, or whether they’re international – that are trying to knit things together, that are trying to create structures. So when future people are born in the world, they will have structures within which they can work to try to use their good instincts, their capacities, their abilities, to create worlds that are better. And if you contrast this century with the 19th, in the 19th they were certain that it was progress; but we’ve lived through – I have – this terrible, terrible 20th Century. And now people are not at all certain whether the forces of progress, whether the good within people is so good that it can overcome these tremendous problems. But we’re working on it. So I’m an optimist, and most people are. We work on it. We do our best. Recorded on: 7/5/2007

How Do You Interpret the Law?

Stephen Breyer: You know the thing that impressed me most ever written about judges interpreting text was a statement by Learned Hand, who is maybe the greatest judge ever had in the United States – certainly one of the few. And he said, “Interpreting a text is like a . . . it’s tough. It’s a difficult decision.” He said, “It’s closer to a performer interpreting a musical score.” You want to be true to that score. You want to be true to the intent of the composer who wrote the music. And there isn’t a magic formula. There’s not a magic formula that will tell you how to do it. And I would be amazed if I could give you a formula about how to use consequences in every case. Well I think if you put it more tritely, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I write down what I think. And if people read it, they will see what the reasoning is. And they can criticize it and I might learn from that. But there is not a magic answer. You know I’m probably . . . since I recently wrote a dissent in a case involving the use of race-conscious criteria in the schools . . . whether the city of Seattle could use . . . As one criteria among several, they allowed high school students freedom to choose whatever school they wanted. They listed preferences. But they said no school could be more than 85% white. Basically that was their criteria. And the question was, “Could they actually overtly, in that way, use a racial criteria?” And the court, 5 to 4, decided that they could not. They could not. I dissented. I thought, “Of course they can’t.” Were consequences relevant there? They certainly were to me. Because I said, “If you interpret the equal protection clause to forbid this, how are people supposed to deal with problems of race and poverty in inner cities of America?” And I see the Constitution as a very workable document. I think Madison’s genius was to say we’re going to get these values. We stay the same. And we’re gonna embody them in words that allow their application over the course of the next 400, 500 years, if not longer. And to do that, you have to refer back to how do these values apply today? What’s the value of the equal protection clause? Trying to bring us together; trying to create one nation; trying to create races that were separate . . . a caste system; and try to create one country out of this diversity. And it’s a miracle, but we’ve been able to do that to a degree. There’s still plenty of problems. And for me to think of that clause being posed as an obstacle to such an effort, I just think that that was wrong. And I expressed by view very concisely in about 77 pages.

Recorded on: 7/5/07

Making Your Dissent Heard

Stephen Breyer: Well it’s always been true that usually once or twice a year, someone . . . someone will read a dissent from the bench. And it’s typically a dissent in a case that we think has some importance, and that we think . . . the dissenters usually think is very wrongly decided. The normal attitude when you write a dissent is “how right I am”. I mean that’s human nature. But there have been more than usual. And I think what the dissenters have been saying in their dissents is we think there are quite a few decisions with which we strongly disagree.

Recorded on: 7/5/07

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Stephen Breyer

What is the way forward in the Middle East?

I heard Shimon Peres say something interesting, I thought, because people are so pessimistic about the Middle East. And he said something more optimistic. He said, “It’s like going forward with throwbacks.” It’s . . . there are obstacles. And you hope you’ll surmount them and you might. There were . . . right now you’re involved in the Internet. Well my goodness. That could be a terrible thing. It could be a force that isolates people. They don’t have human contact anymore. Everything is . . . Or, it could be a force that brings them together. And in fact, when you see people in . . . probably in the Middle East, he said, “Once they start to see what’s possible elsewhere in the world, and what they can achieve through cooperation in a modern world . . .” Modern has a lot of bad about it, but it has a lot of good. And whether it’s good or bad, we’re in it. And once they see what is possible to accomplish through education, through savings, through trying to improve their economic life, through getting together . . . once they see that, they’ll begin more to understand it, and that will be a tremendous civilizing force. And by “civilizing force”, I mean the force that really keeps out these incredible fanatics. And so what we’ve seen in the last 10

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Stephen Breyer

Does Public Opinion Influence the Decision-Making of a Judge?

Stephen Breyer: No. I mean only vary rarely would that actually matter. And it can’t really influence your judgment in terms of consequences directly on the court – what will the press say? Will they say you’re good or bad? Will they see this is terrible or wonderful – you just cannot let it because that is the road to perdition? We’re not there to be popular. We’re not there to decide according to the majority. We’re not there to decide according to what the press is going to write. If you were to take that view of the job, why take it? The point of this job is to do your best as a judge. It is a judicial job. It is a job where you’re trying to apply as best you can to apply the law in different circumstances. And the cases in front of us – 80 a year – sounds like a few, but each of them is really difficult because they are cases in respect to which lower courts have continuously disagreed. Years ago in the 1830s, there was a case involving the Cherokee Indians and Georgia. And they were . . . Their land bill was discovered, and the Georgians seized their land. They hired a lawyer, William Worth – a great lawyer in that time – and he brought a case to the Supreme Court. And he won eventually. He won. The court said the land belongs to the Indians. It doesn’t belong to the Georgians. And the President, Jackson, said – supposedly said – John Marks has made his decision and we must enforce it. And he wouldn’t enforce that decision. Indeed he sent troops there eventually. Those troops evicted the Indians. Well John Joseph’s story and John Marshall had a correspondence that year. And it was a dark year for the court. And they wondered, in writing, what will happen to this court. And John Marshall said something that’s famous. He said, “Well the people made the Constitution, and they can unmake it.” So ultimately we’re floating on a sea of public opinion. And that public opinion does not have to agree with our decisions, but they do have to follow them.

And indeed we’ve seen over the course of history. I often use as an example Little Rock, where a different president – Eisenhower – sent troops. And Governor ______ stood in the door and said, “I will not . . . I will not let those black children in this white school.”

And Eisenhower said, “We’re sending the Airborne.” The 101st Airborne Division went to Little Rock, and they took the children by the hand and they walked them right into the school. That was a great day for the law, for the country. And today people do tend to follow the opinions . . . They understand, at some level, that 300 million people of every possible race, religion and point of view to live together, they have to have a way of resolving their problems, and they turn to the law. Now there’s no guarantee that will continue. The court is working at it, but it is an incredible asset, a treasure to the country. And I see it every day. I see it every day.

I understand that the court has to maintain standing in public opinion; but the way to do that is not for me to base my decisions on public opinion. Out of the question.

The way for me to do it is to do just what I’m doing now. It’s to do my best to explain to people what the court’s about. And to hope I’ll interest them enough, so that they – whether they’re high school students, or college students, or grammar school students, they say, “Well maybe we ought to know something about this. Maybe we should find out. Maybe we ought to know about our government. Maybe even participating in government or participating in the community is a good thing for us.” And if they think about that, then I’ve done what I can in that respect.

Recorded on: 7/5/07

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Stephen Breyer - Do you have a Legal Philosophy?

Source: for all of the above - Big Think


I mean Holmes, of course, is a very great judge. Because he saw what I admired in him, and what people do admire in him, is he said, “Look. It’s not a question of a few people dictating to others. It is a question of inspiring, or leading, or getting others themselves to resolve their problems. Sometimes when they resolve their problems, they run up against what he called a “can’t help”. He said a can’t help . . . I have a can’t help when I just have to say, “My god. This is wrong.” And we’ve seen a few of those. So it’s like being under pressure. It’s like you want these . . . It’s not my decision. It’s not my decision. It’s their decision. They’ve got to do it. They’ve gotta work this out. I can give advice, but I can’t tell anybody what to do. And then you run up against a can’t help. You can’t do that. You can’t do that. You can’t put those people in prison without any cause. You can’t do this kind of thing. It’s just too much, you see . . . speech, religion, whatever, I see those things in the Constitution. So I think it’s a . . . and Holmes was influenced by what I think of as the late 19th Century, early 20th Century American pragmatist. Other pragmatists are Henry James, Purse, and . . . There’s a pretty good book called “The Metaphysical Club”. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. Very good. And they describe . . . He describes a people like that time. And then I think of San Francisco, which was a cooperative. Western . . . it’s western. It’s open. It’s cooperative. It’s people of all walks of life getting together and trying to figure out how to solve their problems. And I think of when I was growing up back in San Francisco. You said what was the world supposed to be like? Well the world, in a way, that Dean Atchison created . . . or helped create. That was a world which was going to be a world where democracy would spread; where people’s basic rights would be guaranteed; where there would be free trade. Not totally free. The mixed economy, you see? Regulated competitive. Not communism. Not les a faire capitalism, but there would be something in between there where you’d take the advantages of free markets but regulate them so they don’t get out of control. And there would be international organizations whereby people could resolve their international disputes. So you say put that . . . say pragmatic. The pragmatic . . . Pragmatic is a . . . Pragmatism, American pragmatism . . . Henry James and Purse and those people, and Cline later on, and the philosophers . . . It’s not just do whatever is good. It’s not just look out at each decision and try to maximize whatever is good. It is to try to create systems, rules, organizations, methods of cooperation that you see over time will tend to push societies towards what is better. I mean when he talked about truth – this may be more than you want to know – but when he talked about truth, James and Purse were not saying that something is true because it works. What they were saying is that something is true because it’s part of a total system. And that total system works better for people than some alternative system would. Recorded on: 7/5/07

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An Independent Judiciary

It’s a mistake to say that there isn’t an independent judiciary in America. A chauffeur can still beat a President.


Source: Big Think


Well what I talk about is what I’ve been talking about, is it is important for people at all levels to understand the need for a rule of law and independent judiciary. And I think that that is fairly well understood; but where you try to get the understanding is at the high school level. That’s what I mostly think we can do. In respect to separation of powers as legal matters, they come up before us as cases. Now we’ve had Guantanamo, for example, three times. Most recent, we were going to hear another case. Don’t take anything I say as commenting on that case. We haven’t heard it yet. But the third case involved probably the least popular . . . or one of the least popular people in the United States . . . Bin Laden’s chauffer. And he was on one side against the most powerful person possibly in the world, the United . . . the President of the United States. And he was claiming that he couldn’t be tried by a military tribunal. And he came before our court, and he won and the President lost. So it’s a mistake to say that there isn’t an independent judiciary in America. In those cases, we decide the issues as we see them case by case. And so the general thing, “Is the President too powerful? Is the Congress too powerful? Are the courts too powerful?” In general terms, it’s a matter for the political scientists and the government professors to work out, and the newspapers to editorialize, and the people to think about; but it isn’t something that I necessarily . . . that I take into account when I’m doing my job. I’m trying to decide particular cases. Recorded on: 7/5/07

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Francie Grice The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic

The Liberty Amendments Restoring the American Republic by Mark R. Levin by Mark R. Levin Mark R. Levin


For a century, the Statists have steadfastly constructed a federal Leviathan, distorting and evading our constitutional system in pursuit of an all-powerful, ubiquitous central government. The result is an ongoing and growing assault on individual liberty, state sovereignty, and the social compact. Levin argues that if we cherish our American heritage, it is time to embrace a constitutional revival.

The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and the delegates to each state’s ratification convention foresaw a time when—despite their best efforts to forestall it—the Federal government might breach the Constitution’s limits and begin oppressing the people. Agencies such as the IRS and EPA and programs such as Obamacare demonstrate that the Framers’ fear was prescient.

Therefore, the Framers provided two methods for amending the Constitution. The second was intended for our current circumstances—empowering the states to bypass Congress and call a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution. Levin argues that we, the people, can avoid a perilous outcome by seeking recourse, using the method called for in the Constitution itself.

The Framers adopted ten constitutional amendments, called the Bill of Rights, that would preserve individual rights and state authority. Levin lays forth eleven specific prescriptions for restoring our founding principles, ones that are consistent with the Framers’ design. His proposals—such as term limits for members of Congress and Supreme Court justices and limits on federal taxing and spending—are pure common sense, ideas shared by many. They draw on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers—including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and numerous lesser-known but crucially important men—in their content and in the method for applying them to the current state of the nation.

Now is the time for the American people to take the first step toward reclaiming what belongs to them. The task is daunting, but it is imperative if we are to be truly free.

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Francie Grice The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities

The Court and the World American Law and the New Global Realities by Stephen G. Breyer by Stephen G. Breyer Stephen G. Breyer


A fascinating account of how an increasingly globalized and interdependent world influences the deliberations of America's highest court, by the sitting justice and author of Making Our Democracy Work and Active Liberty.

In this original, far-reaching and timely book, Justice Stephen Breyer examines the work of SCOTUS in an increasingly interconnected world, a world in which all sorts of public and private activity--from the conduct of national security policy to the conduct of international trade--obliges the Court to consider and understand circumstances beyond America's borders. At a time when ordinary citizens may book international lodging directly through online sites like Airbnb, it has become clear that judicial awareness can no longer stop at the water's edge.

To trace how foreign considerations have come to inform the thinking of the Court, Justice Breyer begins with that area of the law in which they have always figured prominently: national security in its Constitutional dimension--how should the Court balance this imperative with others, chiefly the protection of basic liberties, in its review of presidential and congressional actions? He goes on to show how the Court has also been obliged to determine the application of American law in international contexts in a great many more everyday matters, from copyright to domestic relations to the interpretation of international treaty obligations. What, for instance, is the geographical reach of an American statute concerning securities fraud or an antitrust law?

While Americans must necessarily determine their own laws through democratic process, increasingly, the smooth operation of American law--and, by extension, the advancement of American interests and values--depends on its working in harmony with that of other jurisdictions. Justice Breyer describes how the aim of cultivating such harmony, as well as the expansion of the rule of law overall has drawn American jurists into the relatively new role of "constitutional diplomats," a little remarked but increasingly important job for them in this still changing world.

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Francie Grice The 9/11 Terror Cases: Constitutional Challenges in the War against Al Qaeda

The 9/11 Terror Cases Constitutional Challenges in the War against Al Qaeda (Landmark Law Cases and American Society) by Allan A. Ryan by Allan A. Ryan (no photo)


The terrorist attacks of 9/11 are indelibly etched into our cultural memory. This is the story of how the legal ramifications of that day brought two presidents, Congress, and the Supreme Court into repeated confrontation over the incarceration of hundreds of suspected terrorists and "enemy combatants" at the US naval base in Guantánamo, Cuba. Could these prisoners (including an American citizen) be held indefinitely without due process of law? Did they have the right to seek their release by habeas corpus in US courts? Could they be tried in a makeshift military judicial system? With Guantánamo well into its second decade, these questions have challenged the three branches of government, each contending with the others, and each invoking the Constitution's separation of powers as well as its checks and balances.

In The 9/11 Terror Cases, Allan A. Ryan leads students and general readers through the pertinent cases: Rasul v. Bush and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, both decided by the Supreme Court in 2004; Hamdan v. Bush, decided in 2006; and Boumediene v. Bush, in 2008. An eloquent writer and an expert in military law and constitutional litigation, Ryan is an adept guide through the nuanced complexities of these cases, which rejected the sweeping powers asserted by President Bush and Congress, and upheld the rule of law, even for enemy combatants. In doing so, as we see clearly in Ryan's deft account, the Supreme Court's rulings speak directly to the extent and nature of presidential and congressional prerogative, and to the critical separation and balance of powers in the governing of the United States.

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PBS Interview with Justice Stephen Breyer - October 6, 2016

Justice Stephen Breyer. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

This is an interesting interview with Justice Stephen Breyer conducted by PBS Charlie Rose. Justice Stephen discusses the law and the Supreme Court.



The Nine Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin by Jeffrey Toobin Jeffrey Toobin

Active Liberty Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution by Stephen G. Breyer Making Our Democracy Work A Judge's View by Stephen G. Breyer The Court and the World American Law and the New Global Realities by Stephen G. Breyer all by Stephen G. Breyer Stephen G. Breyer

Discussion Topics:

1. What are the thoughts of Justice Breyer about the effect of globalization on the Supreme Court and how it forces the justices to look outward?

2. What are some of the effects of the current wave of populism throughout the world having on globalization?

3. Why does Justice Breyer feel that a wide range of experiences enhances the role of a supreme court justice?

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Justice Stephen G. Breyer

The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Stephen Breyer is an associate justice for the U.S. Supreme Court, who was nominated by Bill Clinton.


Born on August 15, 1938, in San Francisco, California, Stephen Breyer attended Harvard Law School. He went on to teach law for more than two decades at his alma mater, and served as an assistant prosecutor during the Watergate hearings. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton and sworn in on August 3, 1994. He authored the 2010 book Making Democracy Work.

Early Years and Schools

Stephen Gerald Breyer was born on August 15, 1938, in San Francisco, California. His father Irving was legal counsel for the San Francisco Board of Education and his mother Anne volunteered for the League of Women Voters. Influenced by his parents, the future justice developed an understanding of the importance of public service.

Displaying a formidable intellect at an early age, Breyer was known as the "troop brain" among his fellow Eagle Scouts. He joined the debate team at Lowell High School in San Francisco, and was voted "most likely to succeed" upon graduating in 1955.

After earning his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University in 1959, Breyer attended Oxford University's Magdalen College as a Marshall Scholar. He returned to the United States to enroll at Harvard Law School, joining the Harvard Law Review before graduating magna cum laude in 1964.

Early Legal Career

Breyer clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur J. Goldberg for the 1964-65 term, before becoming special assistant to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust. In 1967, he embarked on a lengthy tenure as a law professor at Harvard.

After serving on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, Breyer in 1973 was appointed special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he earned accolades for his bipartisan efforts to deregulate the airline industry. At the end of the decade he became the Judiciary Committee's chief counsel.

The lone judicial appointment of outgoing President Jimmy Carter to be confirmed by the Senate, Breyer took office as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in December 1980. He joined the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1985, and in 1990 he was named chief judge of the Court of Appeals and a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Supreme Court Justice

Initially considered for a seat on the Supreme Court upon the retirement of Byron White in 1993, Breyer instead waited another year to earn President Bill Clinton's nomination as a replacement for Harry Blackmun. Following a week of hearings, he was approved by the Senate by a vote of 87 to 9 and assumed his position as associate justice on August 3, 1994.

As the high court's junior justice for a near-record 11 1/2 years, Breyer developed a reputation for his pragmatism. Often in opposition to the originalist views of Justice Antonin Scalia, he championed an interpretation of the Constitution as a "living" document that required consideration of contemporary issues. As such, he penned a dissent in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to keep and bear firearms for self-defense.

Breyer occasionally sides with his conservative colleagues, most notably in a 2014 decision that upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state's public universities. However, he often allies with the court's liberal wing, as he did with the 2015 rulings that upheld the federal tax subsidies of the Affordable Care Act and the constitutional right for same-sex marriage.

Off the Bench

During his early years as an assistant professor, Breyer met psychologist Joanna Hare, the daughter of British Conservative Party leader John Hare. Married in 1967, they have three children.

The justice has several interests outside of law, including cooking and bicycling. He was involved in a serious bike accident while under consideration for the Supreme Court in 1993, and met with President Clinton despite recovering from a punctured lung and several broken ribs.

Considered one of the best writers in the federal court system, Breyer has authored several books about federal regulation. More recently, he explained his judicial philosophies in his 2005 tome, Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution, and in his 2010 book, Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View. 


“The main thing I would like people to understand about the Constitution is that it does not decide how people in America should live their lives. That its basic object is to create a democratic form of government, a form of government that has limits, but within those limits there is enormous space for people to make up their own minds about how they want to live together in their communities.” —Stephen Breyer

"Much in the Constitution is written in a very general way. Words like 'freedom of speech' do not define themselves. Nor does the word 'liberty.' And what they intended with these very basic values, in a document, [was that they] would last for a hundred years." —Stephen Breyer

Link to article:


Active Liberty Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution by Stephen G. Breyer Making Our Democracy Work A Judge's View by Stephen G. Breyer by Stephen G. Breyer Stephen G. Breyer

Source(s): Biography, Oyez

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Great photo of Breyer

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No Bail Hearings for Detained Immigrants, Supreme Court Rules

By ADAM LIPTAK February 27, 2018

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, joined all of the majority opinion in the immigration ruling, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer dissented from the bench. Credit Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that people held in immigration detention, sometimes for years, are not entitled to periodic hearings to decide whether they may be released on bail.

The vote was 5 to 3, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority. Justice Stephen G. Breyer summarized his dissent from the bench, a rare move signaling intense disagreement.

The two sides exchanged unusually caustic barbs, mirroring the sharp divisions on immigration policy among lawmakers and members of the public.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said the detention of people seeking asylum or fighting deportation was needed to give immigration officials time “to determine an alien’s status without running the risk of the alien’s either absconding or engaging in criminal activity.”

Justice Breyer responded that the decision was most likely “the first time ever” that the Supreme Court had interpreted a federal law to allow the long-term confinement of people held in the United States and accused of misconduct without an opportunity to obtain bail. “An ‘opportunity,’ I might add, does not necessarily mean release, for there may be a risk of flight or harm that would justify denying bail,” he said from the bench.

The decision came a day after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal over whether the Trump administration may shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation, complicating legislative efforts to address the issue.

Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who represented the immigrants seeking hearings in Tuesday’s case, said he was disappointed by the decision.

“The Trump administration is trying to expand immigration detention to record-breaking levels as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities,” he said. “We have shown through this case that when immigrants get a fair hearing, judges often release them based on their individual circumstances.”

Richard A. Samp, a lawyer with the Washington Legal Foundation, which filed a brief for 29 members of Congress supporting a strict interpretation of the immigration laws, said the decision was a victory for public safety.

“When Congress determines that the best way to prevent aliens convicted of felonies from repeating their crimes is to lock them up until they can be deported,” he said, “lower courts don’t have the authority to second-guess that determination by attempting to rewrite the law.”

The majority in Tuesday’s case ruled on narrow grounds, saying that the immigration laws do not by their terms authorize the hearings. It sent the case back to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, instructing it to consider whether the Constitution requires the hearings — but only if various procedural roadblocks could be overcome.

The Ninth Circuit had ruled that bond hearings are required after six months to determine whether detainees who do not pose flight risks or a danger to public safety may be released while their cases proceed. The court based its ruling on an interpretation of the federal immigration laws, not the Constitution, though it said its reading was required to avoid constitutional difficulties.

Justice Alito, in the majority opinion on Tuesday, said that this interpretive approach, called “constitutional avoidance,” was unavailable here, as the words of the immigration laws were plain. “The meaning of the relevant statutory provisions is clear — and clearly contrary to the decision of the court of appeals,” Justice Alito wrote.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined all of the majority opinion, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch most of it, though those two justices also wrote that the Supreme Court was powerless to hear the case at all.

In dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that “we can, and should, read the relevant statutory provisions to require bail proceedings in instances of prolonged detention without doing violence to the statutory language or to the provisions’ basic purposes.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined Justice Breyer’s dissent.

In response, Justice Alito accused his colleagues of taking extreme liberties with the English language. “The dissent evidently has a strong stomach when it comes to inflicting linguistic trauma,” Justice Alito wrote. “The contortions needed to reach these remarkable conclusions are a sight to behold.”

The case itself had gone through contortions at the Supreme Court. It was first argued in 2016 before an eight-member court left short-handed by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The justices deadlocked 4 to 4, and the case was reargued in October after Justice Gorsuch joined the court.

After the second argument, Justice Elena Kagan announced her recusal from the case, presumably after discovering that she had worked on an aspect of it as United States solicitor general. She had participated in both arguments, and her questioning suggested that she would have voted with the court’s liberal wing.

Read the remainder of the article at:


21 Supreme Court Issues Facing America by Steve Elliott by Steve Elliott (no photo)
Justice Stephen Breyer Dissents by Robert Dittmer by Robert Dittmer (no photo)

Source: The New York Times

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A shame really Lorna - a great post

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Stephen Breyer Is Reading Aeschylus While the Supreme Court Burns Around Him
The justice stayed far away from the Brett Kavanaugh controversy in an interview on Thursday.

By EMMA GREEN October 4, 2018


Stephen Breyer, the liberal justice who is rounding out two and a half decades on the Supreme Court, doggedly avoided saying anything remotely relevant to the scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh in an interview on Thursday.

Breyer’s potential future colleague has been publicly accused of sexual assault or misconduct by three women. Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings were long and contentious and constantly interrupted by protesters. The whole process has been highly politicized, leaving American voters feeling angry and divided. Breyer, however, had nothing to say about the importance of judicial independence or the effort to elevate the judiciary above partisanship.

“I’m obviously going to stay as far away as I can from any particular controversy that’s going on,” he said in an interview at The Atlantic Festival. During a particularly ugly episode in American politics, when the prospect of a fair and neutral judiciary seems quaint, if not impossible, the justice seemed committed to the pretense that Supreme Court justices remain above and separate from the political fray.

Instead, Breyer was there to talk about literary classics with his interviewer, Michael Kahn, the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The two reflected on works by Shakespeare, Aeschylus, and Albert Camus. When the conversation veered even slightly toward politics, Breyer happily sidestepped with abstract reflections.

For instance, Kahn asked the justice whether he was concerned about the intensity of political polarization in American society. Breyer replied with an elaborate metaphor about Agamemnon, the ancient Greek hero featured in Homer’s writings. “We’re human,” Breyer said. “Who is Hamlet? … He’s a human being who has found the tragedy of life, the difficulty of life, the human condition. We find out the truth, it doesn’t do us much good.”

Breyer went on. “There have been civil wars in America,” he said. He described the 1856 caning attack on Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts that took place on the Senate floor after he spoke out against slavery. The fights of our day, Breyer seemed to imply, are but mild disturbances on the surface of the vast lake of history. “There are ups and downs,” Breyer said. “We’re human.”

Meanwhile, in the legislative branch of the federal government, all hell is breaking loose on a daily basis. During the hearing last week in which Kavanaugh and his primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testified, Senator Lindsey Graham called the confirmation process “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.” There is no more illusion that judiciary hearings are high-minded, bipartisan attempts to “advise and consent” on Supreme Court nominations. “When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them Lindsey said hello,” Graham said, referring to the associate justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who were both nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama. “’Cause I voted for them.”

Perhaps Breyer thinks his duty is to avoid saying anything substantive about the institution he represents or the ideals the judiciary is supposed to stand for. Perhaps, as his comments suggest, he really does think this is one scandal among many in history, and that the Court will continue to strive toward justice. Or perhaps Kahn’s observation was correct: “I’ve found the justices to be very good actors.”

Link to article:


Active Liberty Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution by Stephen G. Breyer by Stephen G. Breyer Stephen G. Breyer

Source: The Atlantic

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Watching for the Supreme Court to set the terms for the eventual Roe v. Wade showdown

By JOAN BISKUPIC May 14, 2019

(Photo of the Justices: Fred Schilling / Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States; photo of the Supreme Court: Joe Ravi)

Washington (CNN) - Rapid and dramatic moves by states to ban abortion at six weeks of pregnancy appear to set up an immediate fight over Roe v. Wade. But such direct challenges to the 1973 milestone are years from any Supreme Court hearing, and advocates on both sides are more urgently strategizing over the pending cases that would establish the terms for the eventual showdown.

Their target is Chief Justice John Roberts. Last year's retirement of centrist conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy landed Roberts at the ideological center of the reconstituted court. The 64-year-old George W. Bush nominee has backed laws that restrict access to abortion, but Roberts has also tried to preserve the institutional stature of the court.

That means dueling advocates are homing in on themes of precedent and regard for the court in the public eye. They are focusing on respect for -- or rejection of -- past decisions involving the right to end a pregnancy and looking to see how far Roberts and his conservative majority are willing to go.

Justices, too, are positioning themselves. Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer cited one of the key opinions that upheld Roe v. Wade -- 1992's Casey v. Planned Parenthood -- in a dissent Monday that warned against upending precedent.
"It is far more dangerous to overrule a decision only because five members of a later court come to agree with earlier dissenters on a difficult legal question," Breyer wrote. "The majority has surrendered to the temptation to overrule (Monday's case) even though it is a well reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems in the four decades since we decided it. Today's decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next."

Breyer may have been sending a message to Roberts and his conservative colleagues.

"Everybody is, in some sense, in dialogue with Chief Justice Roberts," said Travis J. Tu, of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, representing a Louisiana medical clinic in a case before the justices regarding whether abortion providers must have "admitting privileges" at local hospitals.

Beginning with his confirmation hearings in 2005, when he described any reversal of past Supreme Court rulings as "a jolt to the system," Roberts has touted the value of precedent. At the same time, the Roberts Court has at times overturned long-standing precedent, most notably last session in a ruling that reversed a 1977 decision affecting organized labor and union fees.

The newer bans enacted since President Donald Trump took office so conflict with Roe v. Wade that not one has yet been enforced or upheld. The Supreme Court may be poised one day to reverse Roe by upholding an abortion ban, but the cases on its doorstep still involve an earlier set of laws. What happens in the Louisiana case, therefore, could be first in a series of incremental rulings on a path that, in the end, would determine the fate Roe v. Wade.

Adding to the uncertainty of how the court will act, the schedule for the Louisiana case, June Medical Services v. Gee, points to a possible Supreme Court ruling in the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign. That simple fact might also affect the chief justice, likely loath to issue a disruptive decision that would further thrust the court into the political sphere.

These measures clash with Supreme Court precedent that forbids an "undue burden" on a woman's right to end a pregnancy before viability, that is, when a fetus can live outside the mother. Lower court judges have ruled against such "heartbeat" measures in the past, and none is likely to take effect in the near future.

Still, lawyers representing abortion opponents hope to use the pattern to assert that many Americans do not regard Roe as truly settled, despite its nearly half-century status.

"Our society is moving away from acceptance and reliance on abortion," said Kevin Theriot, a lawyer with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been active in anti-abortion litigation nationwide. Referring to cases that may become "building blocks" for a direct attack on Roe, Theriot said, "All that we need is for the court to say things have changed."

Read remainder of article:


A Question of Choice Roe v. Wade by Sarah Weddington by Sarah Weddington (no photo)

Source: CNN Politics

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Supreme Court blocks Trump from ending DACA in big win for Dreamers

Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in the 5-4 decision, dealing a big legal defeat to President Trump on the issue of immigration.

By Pete Williams and Adam Edelman

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration cannot carry out its plan to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation and remain in the U.S.

Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in the 5-4 decision, which deals a big legal defeat to President Donald Trump on the issue of immigration, a major focus of his domestic agenda.

Roberts wrote in the decision that the government failed to give an adequate justification for ending the federal program. The administration could again try to shut it down by offering a more detailed explanation for its action, but the White House might not want to end such a popular program in the heat of a presidential campaign.

Remainder of article and video:

Source: NBC News

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DACA Supreme Court opinion:


Source: Supreme Court Opinions

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Supreme Court Rules Against Trump Administration In DACA Case

By NINA TOTENBURG June 18, 2020

Demonstrators arrive in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during a march in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Nov. 10. Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

A narrowly divided Supreme Court extended Thursday a life-support line to some 650,000 so-called DREAMers, allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the program.

The vote was 5-to-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive fifth vote that sought to bridge the liberal and conservative wings of the court.

Roberts and the court's four liberal justices said the Department of Homeland Security's decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.

In his opinion, Roberts wrote: "The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the problem anew."

Begun in 2012, the DACA program gave temporary protection from deportation to qualified individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Under the program, the DREAMers were allowed to work legally and apply for college loans if they met certain requirements and passed a background check.

President Trump sought to end the program shortly after he took office, maintaining that it was illegal and unconstitutional from the start.

But he was blocked by the lower courts and appealed to the Supreme Court, where Thursday the justices divided over both substance and timing.

The muddled state of play likely prevents the administration from enacting any plans to begin deportations immediately, but there is little doubt that should President Trump be reelected, the second-term president almost certainly would seek to end the program.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, wrote: "Today's decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision."

The court's decision presents a particularly delicate political problem for congressional Republicans just four months before the national election in November.

DACA has been an enormously popular program, with public opinion polls showing widespread support for it among Democrats, independents and Republicans.

DACA recipients have gotten advanced degrees; they have started businesses; they have bought houses, had children who are U.S. citizens; and 90% have jobs. Indeed, 29,000 are health care professionals, working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

So popular has the DACA program been that the Senate Republican leadership not once, but twice, worked closely with Democrats to work out a deal to protect the Dreamers, only to have Trump renege at the last moment.

What Trump will do before the November election is anyone's guess. The heart of his political base is opposed to immigration in just about every form. But this is no ordinary time.

Amid pandemic and racial crisis, the court's ruling is likely to focus on yet another issue where the president is at odds with public sentiment, while at the same time putting Republican officeholders between the rock of their president's views, and the hard place of their own reelection bids.

Link to article:
Link to DACA Decision:


Just Like Us The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe by Helen Thorpe Helen Thorpe

Source: NPR News

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Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana law that would have limited state to one abortion clinic

By TUCKER HIGGINS June 29, 2020


- The Supreme Court on Monday voted 5-4 to strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion measure in a major win for reproductive rights activists, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s four liberals.

- The case involved a Louisiana abortion law requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. Challengers of the law alleged the restriction would limit the state to just one abortion provider at a single clinic.

- The dispute was the first over abortion to be argued before President Donald Trump’s two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. It came just four years after the top court ruled that a similar abortion law passed in Texas was unconstitutional.

A placard saying, Abortion is a Human Right, is seen during the “Stop The Bans Day of Action for Abortion Rights” rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Michael Brochstein | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday voted 5-4 to strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion measure in a major win for reproductive rights activists, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s four liberals.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who authored an opinion joined by his fellow Democratic appointees, wrote that the law placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. Roberts wrote separately to say his thinking was based on the court’s 2016 decision to strike down a similar law in Texas.

The case involved a Louisiana abortion law requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. Challengers of the law alleged the restriction would limit the state to just one abortion provider at a single clinic.

Breyer wrote that the law posed a “substantial obstacle” on women and provided “no significant health-related benefits,” and therefore was unconstitutional.

The case is the third in a string of major victories for liberals at the high court that have come in the midst of an election battle between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump campaigned on nominating justices who would “automatically” overturn the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade.

The dispute was the first over abortion to be argued before President Donald Trump’s two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the Louisiana abortion law at the top court, said in a statement that “we’re relieved that the Louisiana law has been blocked today but we’re concerned about tomorrow.”

“With this win, the clinics in Louisiana can stay open to serve the one million women of reproductive age in the state. But the Court’s decision could embolden states to pass even more restrictive laws when clarity is needed if abortion rights are to be protected,” Northup said.

The Louisiana attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anti-abortion groups immediately criticized the decision.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, called the ruling a “bitter disappointment.”

“It demonstrates once again the failure of the Supreme Court to allow the American people to protect the well-being of women from the tentacles of a brutal and profit-seeking abortion industry,” Dannenfelser said.

Earlier this month, Roberts joined the court’s four Democratic appointees rebuffing the Trump administration’s effort to terminate the Obama-era immigration program known as DACA. Also in June, Roberts and Gorsuch sided with the four liberals in a decision that held that gay and transgender workers can’t be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dannenfelser said the Supreme Court decision “reinforces just how important Supreme Court judges are to advancing the pro-life cause” and called it “imperative that we re-elect President Trump and our pro-life majority in the U.S. Senate so we can further restore the judiciary, most especially the Supreme Court.”

Roberts cites 2016 abortion case from Texas

Roberts said his vote with the liberals on Monday was based on the top court’s precedent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case the court decided in 2016. In that case, the court struck down a nearly identical Texas law by a 5-3 vote. Roberts voted at the time to uphold the law.

But in his opinion on Monday, Roberts said that the legal doctrine known as stare decisis, or the principle of adhering to precedent, “requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike.”

“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,” Roberts wrote. “Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

The case is June Medical Services v. Russo, No. 18-1323.

Link to article:


When Abortion Was a Crime Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 by Leslie J. Reagan by Leslie J. Reagan (no photo)

Source: CNBC News

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Daniel Lewis Lee executed after Supreme Court clears the way for first federal execution in 17 years


In this Oct. 31 1997, photo, Daniel Lewis Lee waits for his arraignment hearing for murder in the Pope County Detention Center in Russellville, Ark.

(CNN)Daniel Lewis Lee, a convicted killer, was executed Tuesday morning in the first federal execution in 17 years after the Supreme Court issued an overnight ruling that it could proceed.

Lee was pronounced dead by the coroner at 8:07 a.m. ET in Terrre Haute, Indiana. His last words were "I didn't do it. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life but I'm not a murderer. You're killing an innocent man," according to a pool report.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the resumption of the federal death penalty in an unsigned order released after 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.

The court wiped away a lower court order temporarily blocking the execution of Lee in a 5-4 vote.

Lee, a one-time white supremacist who killed a family of three, was scheduled to be executed Monday. A federal judge blocked the planned execution of Lee, and three others, citing ongoing challenges to the federal government's lethal injection protocol.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late Monday refused the Justice Department's request to stay the injunction. The Justice Department had appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment on the court's ruling.

The Supreme Court said that the death row inmates, including Lee, bringing the case "have not established that they are likely to succeed" in their challenge in part because the one drug protocol proposed by the government -- single dose pentobarbital -- has become a 'mainstay' of state executions."

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reiterated in one dissent something he has said before: he thinks it's time for the court to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty.

"The resumption of federal executions promises to provide examples that illustrate the difficulties of administering the death penalty consistent with the Constitution," he said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Ginsburg, wrote separately to criticize the court's "accelerated decision making "

"The court forever deprives respondents of their ability to press a constitutional challenge to their lethal injections," she said.

Three other appeals seeking to delay the execution are also pending at the Supreme Court. One concerns the family of Lee's victims who are concerned about traveling and going to a federal prison during the coronavirus pandemic. A second regards evidence presented by prosecutors during his sentencing hearing.

In 2019, Attorney General William Barr moved to reinstate the federal death penalty after a nearly two decade lapse.

Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to move forward with executions of some "death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly." The scheduled executions reignited legal challenges to the specific protocol used in executions and reinvigorated a debate concerning the constitutionality of lethal injection.

Earlene Peterson -- whose daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law were tortured, killed and dumped in a lake by Lee and an accomplice -- has opposed Lee's execution, telling CNN last year that she did not want it done in her name.


Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson by Bryan Stevenson Bryan Stevenson

Source: CNN

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