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Debater Profile: Justice Stephen G. Breyer

by The New York City Urban Debate League | Aug 15, 2017 7:00:00 AM |

debater, Stephen Bryer, debatet team


“The best clue to what a person thinks is what he says.” - Stephen Breyer, US Supreme Court Justice


Stephen Gerald Breyer was born on August 15, 1938 in northern California. It became clear at an early age that Stephen Breyer was born to be a civil servant. One might say it was in his blood, in fact, as his father served as legal counsel for the San Francisco Board of Education and his mother volunteered for the League of Women voters. In his early life, Stephen Breyer was an active member of the Eagle Scouts; he joined the debate team in high school, where he developed his intellect and debate skills. His school (Lowell High School, San Francisco) still has one of the top debating programs in the country.  He was an active participant of the debate team and he even competed against future California governor Jerry Brown and future Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe. He accumulated many debate award and was voted "most likely to succeed" upon graduating in 1955.


He continued to hone his skills at Stanford University, where he completed his undergraduate studies and was a member of a national honorary speech and debate fraternity. He put his newfound skills to use and attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 1964. (Biography.com


Breyer used his wit, intelligence and debating skills to jumpstart his career. He served in a variety of positions, including law clerk to Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg, Special Assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Antitrust, Harvard Law professor, Assistant Special and Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Breyer made the switch to serving in a judicial capacity in 1980, when he became a judge on the United States Court of Appeals. His experience and zeal for legal and judiciary matters eventually lead Breyer to his appointment to the Supreme Court, an honor bestowed upon him by Democratic President Bill Clinton. (Biography.com


Breyer is known for being the most pragmatic justice on the bench. He has even taken part in spirited debates with fellow justices, using his skills to bring new perspective to topics that are centuries old, like the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. 


If you're interested in a judicious career like that of Justice Breyer, you should consider joining your school's debate team. It will provide you the opportunity to gain valuable skills – effective communication, critical thinking and extensive researching – which will serve as the foundation for future success. You can combine the skills you develop with something you are passionate about in order to truly change the world.

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