January 01, 2017

A Report from the Front: An Interview with Justice Stephen G. Breyer

The Justice discusses his new book, and the role of foreign courts and laws in the American legal system.

Ashish Joshi

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In the spring of 2016, I interviewed Justice Stephen G. Breyer in his chambers at the Supreme Court. He had recently published his latest book, The Court and the World (Knopf 2015). The book, widely acclaimed as original, far-reaching, and timely, examines the work of the Supreme Court in an increasingly interdependent and globalized world. Breyer, analyzing several key decisions of the Supreme Court, points out that as the world grows smaller—or, to quote Thomas Friedman, “flatter”—the Court’s horizons have inevitably expanded. Issues that used to or could be considered as “other people’s” problems are no longer considered as such; what happens in Thailand may very well have real consequences—monetary or otherwise—in Washington. And for that reason, the “foreign” aspect of the Supreme Court’s docket is on the rise. Breyer’s book attempts to answer the following question: How can America’s highest court decide American cases and interpret American laws so that they might work efficiently and in harmony with similar laws in other nations?

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