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Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court and Politics

Streaming Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, October 4, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0437
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Justice Stephen Breyer (Photo: Steve Petteway)

Please Note: This program is being held in-person and as a streaming program on Zoom. Program details below are for the Streaming Option.

Register for the In-person Option

A growing chorus of officials and commentators argues that the Supreme Court has become too political. The confirmation process is just an exercise in partisan agenda-setting, and the jurists are no more than “politicians in robes” camouflaging conservative or liberal convictions with ostensibly neutral judicial philosophies.

In his new book, The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics, Stephen Breyer draws upon his experience as a Supreme Court justice to sound a cautionary note: The judiciary’s hard-won authority could be marred by reforms premised on the assumption of ideological bias. Having, as Hamilton observed, “no influence over either the sword or the purse,” Breyer argues that the Court earned its authority by making decisions that have, over time, increased the public’s trust. If that trust is now in decline, one part of the solution is to promote better understandings of how the judiciary actually works, how judges adhere to their oaths, and how they try to avoid considerations of politics and popularity.

In conversation with Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst, Breyer discusses why political intervention could itself further erode public trust, imperiling the Court’s ability to act as a check on the other branches of government or as a guarantor of the rule of law, risking serious harm to our constitutional system.

Tickets include copies of The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics (Harvard University Press).

Book Distribution Information

The featured book is included with the ticket price and will be pre-signed. Note: The book is published on September 14, 2021; please allow two to four weeks after that date (or date of purchase, if after Sept. 14) for the book to arrive.

Books for ticket-holders who attend the streaming program will be shipped by Politics and Prose to your home address, so please review the accuracy of your name and address at the time of registration.

If you do not want your personal information shared with the distributor, please email CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org. Opting out from receiving the book does not reduce the registration fee.

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.