Justice Stephen Breyer returns to Harvard Law School

Breyer announced his retirement last January, clearing the way for President Joe Biden to nominate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to take his seat. Breyer’s retirement from the high court became effective on June 30 after the court released its last opinion in one of the most significant terms in decades. Jackson was sworn in the same day.

Last term, the 83-year-old justice found himself in dissent in cases concerning abortion, gun rights, the environment and religious liberty, as the 6-3 conservative leaning court jolted to the right with the addition of three of former President Donald Trump’s nominees. Jackson, a former clerk to Breyer, will not shift the ideological make up of the court, but at 51 years old she is likely to serve for decades.

In a statement Friday, Breyer said he was “very pleased” to return to the school where he will try to explain “why I believe it is important that the next generations of those associated with the law engage in work, and take approaches to law, that help the great American constitutional experiment work effectively for the American people. ”

As a retired justice, Breyer is also expected to maintain an office at the high court and will likely employ one clerk each term.

Breyer attended Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude before serving as a law clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. Breyer went on to serve on the school’s faculty and as chief counsel of the US Senate Judiciary Committee before becoming a judge. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Breyer to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. President Bill Clinton nominated him to serve on the high court and he took his seat in 1994.

“Justice Breyer is a historic jurist and a world-class legal scholar who also has a distinguished history as a member of this faculty,” Dean John F. Manning said in a statement. “His brilliance, experience, collegiality, openness, and intellectual inquisitiveness will deeply enrich our community and advance our mission of teaching, scholarship, and service,” Manning added.

On Friday the American Bar Association also announced that Breyer will also serve as the chairman of a 20-member board to help guide the Association’s rule of law programs around the world. He is set to being that role in mid-August.

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