Associate Justice Stephen Breyer

Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. He retired from the court in 2022. Justice Breyer was known for having a moderate and pragmatic approach to interpreting the law.

Justice Breyer was the 108th justice to serve on the court. Justice Breyer was succeeded by Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who formerly served as his law clerk.

Education & Clerkships

Justice Breyer graduated from Stanford University in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He then attended Magdalen College in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jurisprudence in 1961.

Finally, he received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1964. He served as an editor for the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. After graduating from law school, Justice Breyer served eight years in the United States Army Reserve. He was on active duty for six months before being honorably discharged.

Justice Breyer then served as a law clerk for Justice Arthur Goldberg on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964. He then clerked for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit between the years 1964 and 1965.

Law Offices

Between the years of 1965 and 1967, Justice Breyer began his legal career as an attorney in the antitrust division of the Department of Justice. He then worked as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force from 1973 to 1974.

After his time in government service, Justice Breyer went on to work in private practice. He was a partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling from 1979 to 1994, specializing in antitrust and administrative law.

Judicial Offices

Justice Breyer was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 1980. He was confirmed by the Senate by an 80-10 vote. He served as the Chief Judge between the years 1990 and 1994. During his time on the First Circuit, Justice Breyer was known for his commitment to judicial efficiency and effectiveness.

Justice Breyer was then nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. He replaced retiring Justice Harry Blackmun. He served the U.S. Supreme Court as an associate justice until his retirement in 2022.

Notable Decisions

Justice Breyer was involved in several notable decisions during his time on the Supreme Court. He authored several integral majority opinions of the Court, including National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), United States v. Booker (2005), Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011), and Roper v. Simmons (2005).

Some of his most famous dissents included Bush v. Gore (2000), where the majority decided on the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2000), which gave corporations broad rights to donate to political campaigns. He also dissented in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), where the majority overturned Roe v. Wade.


Justice Breyer retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022. He was succeeded by his former law clerk, Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She assumed office on June 30, 2022.

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