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U.S. Justice Stephen Breyer Receives High Honor in Paris

Publié le April 10, 2013
Rare Appointment to Academic Body is for Life

In a unique ceremonial session held on April 8, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was appointed as Foreign Associate Member to the Academy of Political and Moral Sciences. One of the 12 Foreign Associate Members, Mr. Breyer was elected to the position during a voting session held at the Academy on June 11, 2012. Vaclav Havel, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Mario Monti, King Juan Carlos of Spain are some of the other Associate Members.

While in Paris to receive the prestigious honor, Justice Breyer gave a lecture in French at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, a prominent university commonly known as Sciences Po, where he spoke about the role of the Supreme Court in American political life.

Born in San Francisco in 1938, Stephen Breyer studied philosophy at Stanford University before receiving a second Bachelor of Arts from Magdalen College of the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar. In 1964 he received his law degree from Harvard University, where he would later teach while also serving in a range of legal capacities. Mr. Breyer was successively Judge and Chief Judge of the United States court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1994.

With his nomination to the Academy of Political and Moral Sciences, Justice Breyer will become part of one of France’s oldest and most prestigious public institutions, the Institut de France. Founded in 1795, the Institut de France is comprised of five academies whose members are tasked with advancing knowledge of the arts and sciences through research, discussion, and correspondence with other thought leaders worldwide. Justice Breyer is the only American member of the Academy, following the steps of prestigious thinkers and scholars, from Alexis de Tocqueville to Henri Bergson and René Cassin.

During his speech, Justice Breyer noted the growing number of international cases he has reviewed. “It’s no surprise to see cases come before the U.S. Supreme Court that go beyond the confines of America’s borders. I counted seven this year, out of a list of 80. Twenty years ago there would only have been one or two,” he said.

He also emphasized the necessity of broad participation in safeguarding a society’s laws. “The rule of law is an ambitious vision,” he said. “Achieving this vision requires efforts on the part of everyone.”


(photos by B.Eymann / Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques)

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