Stephen Breyer

Stephen Breyer was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the United States Supreme Court and took up his position on August 3, 1994.

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Biography

Born August 15, 1938 in San Francisco, Breyer's father served as legal counsel, and his brother is now a federal district judge. Breyer attended and received degrees from Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard Law School. After law school, he acted as a law clerk for former Justice Aurther Goldberg and also assisted an Assistant Attorney General. He helped the Warren Commission and the investigative team in Watergate. Until 1994, he worked as a professor at Harvard Law School.

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Judicial Career

In 1980, Breyer was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by President Carter, and was appointed as Chief Justice in 1990. He left his position, after being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton, on August 3, 1994.

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Judicial Ideology

Stephen Breyer is often described as pragmatic, and is opposed to more literal methods of judicial interpretation, such as textualism or strict constructionism. He wrote the book "Active Liberty" as an attempt to explain his ideology. He says that it is important to consider the use of "active liberty" (the right of citizens to participate in government) in the courts. He argues that the general theme of the Constitution is actually in favor of loose interpretation and change over time.

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Important Cases

District of Columbia v. Heller: Stephen Breyer joined the dissenting opinion written by John Paul Stevens. Breyer argued that the founding fathers did not intend for the 2nd Amendment to remove all regulation of guns.

Eldred v. Ashcroft: Stephen Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion against the extension of copyright, arguing that copyright protections extending so long after the author's death gave no real motivation to these creators, and that the extension act created a dangerous precedent of extending copyright for many works indefinitely.