January 30, 2008

Law lecture features Supreme Court’s Breyer

Posted: January 30, 2008

Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court will speak on “Our Democratic Constitution” at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at 4 p.m., Feb. 12, at the Great Hall in Armstrong Hall on the Tempe campus.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor will introduce Breyer, whose presentation, the annual Willard H. Pedrick Lecture, is free and open to the public. A public reception will follow.

Breyer will discuss his views that the Constitution’s primary role is to preserve and encourage what he calls “active liberty,” citizen participation in shaping government and its laws.

Breyer will argue that promoting active liberty requires judicial modesty and deference to Congress as well as recognizing the changing needs and demands of the populace, ideas he has discussed in his book, “Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution.”

According to Breyer, the Constitution’s lasting brilliance is that its principles may be adapted to cope with unanticipated situations, and he makes a powerful case against treating the Constitution as a static guide intended for a world that is dead and gone.

Breyer will use contemporary examples from federalism to privacy to affirmative action in what is a vital contribution to the ongoing debate over the role and power of our courts.

Breyer, born in San Francisco in 1938, is a graduate of Stanford, Oxford and Harvard Law School. He taught law for many years as a professor at Harvard Law School and at the Kennedy School of Government. He also has worked as a Supreme Court law clerk (for justice Arthur Goldberg), a Justice Department lawyer (antitrust division), an assistant Watergate special prosecutor and chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In 1980, he was appointed to the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter, becoming chief judge in 1990. In 1994, he was appointed a Supreme Court Justice by President Bill Clinton. He has written books and articles about administrative law, economic regulation and the Constitution.

The Willard H. Pedrick Lecture was established in 1977 by the Pedrick family in memory of the founding dean of ASU’s College of Law. The annual lecture brings to the law school outstanding legal scholars, jurists or practitioners to enrich the intellectual life of the college and the community.

Parking for the lecture is available in the Rural Road visitor’s lot, at the southwestern corner of Terrace and Rural roads (enter on Terrace Road).

For more information about the event, call (480) 965-6405.

Judy Nichols, judith.nichols@asu.edu
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law