December 22, 2015
Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke on Thursday to students, faculty, donors, and supporters of CUNY School of Law’s Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice at an event at the law offices of Covington & Burling LLP.
Justice Breyer and Jeffrey Toobin in conversation
Justice Breyer discussed his new book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities, and how global interdependence is increasingly changing the work of the U.S. Supreme Court. Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and CNN’s senior legal analyst, moderated the hour-long discussion.
“It was a real honor to witness the breadth of knowledge that Justice Breyer brings to the law and his almost poetic facility with language and ideas,” said Dean Michelle J. Anderson. “He moves from one idea to the next, at lighting speed, while staying tuned in to our students. You could see that he loves teaching.”
Sorensen Center director Camille Massey (’95), Justice Breyer, Gillian Sorensen and Dean Michelle J. Anderson
Justice Breyer said he wrote the book as a “report from the front” on changes occurring in the world as they relate to the legal system. He noted that he doesn’t provide the answers but does point out some problems. “You will have to find those answers,” he told CUNY Law students, including the inaugural class of Sorensen Center Fellows, attending the event.
Justice Breyer with Sorensen Center fellows and research assistant
“Our rapt audience was given a window into Justice Breyer’s thinking about the ways that American jurists are increasingly drawn into the role of constitutional diplomats,” said Camille Massey, founding executive director of the Sorensen Center. “Animated by the world of laws and new opportunities for the exchange of ideas, Justice Breyer’s words resonated with our work at the Sorensen Center where we believe that there is much to learn from innovative concepts, practices, and institutions globally.”
Justice Breyer advised CUNY Law students to seek out leaders who share the values they are trying to advance. He also encouraged them to become better informed about interdependence and globalization.
Justice Breyer with Jeffrey Strutynski (’16)
“Justice Breyer’s discussion about the complex relationship between the powers and responsibilities of the executive branch at the times of war, and the responsibilities of the judiciary to protect the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, deeply resonated with me,” said Tanya Segal (’16).
While the points of discussion were serious and thought-provoking, CUNY Law students also appreciated seeing a bit of the judge’s personality.
“I couldn’t believe a Supreme Court justice is so down-to-earth and approachable,” said Sorensen Center Fellow Navid Khazanei (’17). Marc Ramirez (’16), added that he was “pleasantly surprised by the humility and honesty that Justice Breyer brought to the conversation.”
Watch the video of the event:
Justice Breyer greets CUNY Law faculty (L to R): Julie Goldscheid, Andrea McArdle and Natalie Gomez-Velez.
Radiyah Abdus-Shakur (’17) gets her copy of Justice Breyer’s book signed, while Tanya Segal (’16) awaits her turn.
Michael D. Cooper, Sorensen Center Advisory Board Member Larry D. Johnson, and Craig Hatkoff
Sorensen Center Advisory Board Member Rubén Kraiem, partner at Covington & Burling, LLP, thanks Justice Breyer