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Breyer Makes Case For Justices' Adherence To Constitution

Publication Date: 
September 16, 2010
The Wall Street Journal Online
Jess Bravin

Michael McConnell, a professor of Constitutional Law and former federal appellate judge, is quoted in Jess Bravin's Wall Street Journal article on Justice Breyer’s approach to jurisprudence:

Justice Stephen Breyer expressed frustration with popular perceptions of the Supreme Court as a partisan battlefield, making an unusual public statement after a term full of 5-4 splits on politically sensitive issues.

Americans "think we're a group of junior league politicians," he said during a recent interview here. "They think we decide things on the basis of politics. Or, if not politics, on the basis of what we think is good for people, rather than the Constitution. And I think that's wrong."


Stanford University law professor Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appellate judge appointed by President George W. Bush, said Justice Breyer's approach risked leading to a "jurisprudence of personal preference" if it strayed from what the words of the law say.

Trying to surmise "what the nation might say if it were writing a constitution today," Mr. McConnell said, "doesn't adhere to the purpose of a constitution," which is to cement certain provisions in place.