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Stephen Breyer

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Stephen BreyerStephen Gerald Breyer was born on August 15, 1938, in San Francisco. He attended Stanford University, graduating with highest honors in 1959. He then traveled to Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship, where he received a B.A. with first-class honors in 1961 for his study of philosophy, politics, and economics.

Breyer completed his education in 1964 with an LL.B. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He was elected editor of theHarvard Law Review and wrote his required independent work on pragmatism, exploring the philosophies of Charles S. Peirce, William James, and Willard Quine. His thesis—that judges should make decisions by carefully considering how their conclusions would affect people’s social, political, and legal circumstances—foreshadowed his orientation as a judge twenty years later.

Breyer has taught at Harvard University since 1967. He became a judge for the Federal Court of Appeals, First Circuit, in 1980. In 1994 he became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, nominated by President Clinton. He was a Special Prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973 and Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1979-80.

His published works include Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation(1993), The Federal Power Commission and the Regulation of Energy (with Paul MacAvoy, 1974).

Recommended Reading

Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution by Stephen Breyer (2006).