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Justice Breyer at the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival

By Kevin Fayle on July 14, 2009 3:12 PM

The Atlantic's Bob Con interviewed Justice Stephen Breyer at the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival, and covered several topics, including the confirmation process, Breyer's sense of the living Constitution and the retirement of David Souter.

In one of the more interesting portions of the interview, Breyer discusses the polarization of the Court, and wishes that there weren't such a clear ideological divide between the justices.  He notes that many cases involve the same blocs voting in predictable ways, and expresses his desire for a more unified Court.

Breyer's discussion of the textual life of the Constitution is also informative and convincing, although I doubt his arguments will sway hardcore originalists like Justices Thomas and Scalia if previous conference room debates haven't already.

The biggest thing to come across in the interview, however, is just how personable and cheerful Breyer is.  The justice has the reputation of being the resident optimist on the Court, and that quality really comes through on the interview. 

Being in the minority liberal bloc, I'm sure the ability to spot silver linings is a big help for Breyer.

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