In The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities, Justice 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 circumstances beyond America's borders. At a time when citizens may book international lodging 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 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 the interpretation of international treaty obligations.
While Americans must determine their own laws through democratic process, the smooth operation of American law 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 our ever changing world.
In conversation with Nina Totenberg, NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice, was born in San Francisco, California, August 15, 1938.
He received an A.B. from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Justice Arthur Goldberg of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1964 Term, as a Special Assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Antitrust, 1965-1967, as an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973, as Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1974-1975, and as Chief Counsel of the committee, 1979-1980.
He was an Assistant Professor, Professor of Law, and Lecturer at Harvard Law School, 1967-1994, a Professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, 1977-1980, and a Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Sydney, Australia and at the University of Rome.
From 1980-1990, he served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as its Chief Judge, 1990-1994. He also served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990-1994, and of the United States Sentencing Commission, 1985-1989.
President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994.
Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.