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Stephen Breyer

Byrne Professor of Administrative Law and Process

Stephen Breyer
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Justice Stephen Breyer ’64 has been named the Byrne Professor of Administrative Law and Process at Harvard Law School. Breyer earned his A.B. magna cum laude in philosophy from Stanford University. As a Marshall Scholar, he received a B.A. from Magdalen College at Oxford University with first class honors. Breyer then graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and was an articles editor on the Harvard Law Review. Following his graduation in 1964, he served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.

Breyer served on the Harvard Law School faculty from 1967 to 1980 and held a joint appointment at the Kennedy School of Government from 1977 to 1980. Breyer also held numerous public service positions, serving as special assistant to the assistant U.S. attorney general for antitrust (1965–1967), assistant special prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (1973), special counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (1974–1975), and chief counsel of that committee (1979–1980).

In 1980, President Carter appointed Breyer to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, on which he served from 1980 to 1994. He was chief judge from 1990 to 1994. During his time on the First Circuit, Breyer also served as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1985 to 1989. In 1994, President Clinton nominated Judge Breyer as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994.

Justice Breyer has written extensively on wide-ranging subjects including administrative and regulatory policy, comparative constitutional law, and statutory and constitutional interpretation. His books include: “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics” (2021); “The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities” (2015); “Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View” (2010); “Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution” (2005); “Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation” (1994); “Regulation and Its Reform” (1984); and “Energy Regulation by the Federal Power Commission” (1974) (with Paul W. MacAvoy). He also has dozens of law review publications across a wide range of subject matter areas.

Breyer was born in 1938 in San Francisco, the son of Anne and Irving Breyer. His mother’s work focused on public service and his father was legal counsel for the San Francisco Board of Education for 40 years. Breyer was an Eagle Scout. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve for eight years, including six months on active duty during college.