10-Minute Writer's Workshop: SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer

Oct 5, 2016

Legal decisions are rarely read for pleasure. And though read, re-read, excerpted and quoted, they are not always "quotable." Clocking in at an average of just under 5000 words, they can sound jargony, pompous and bone-dry in the wrong hands. But what about the right hands? Today's 10-Minute Writers Workshop asks an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States about what goes into writing an opinion.

Justice Stephen Breyer was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994 and is an exuberant advocate for participatory democracy, animated explainer of the reasoning behind decisions and author of several books. We spoke with Justice Breyer in the green room at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, just before talking with him about his most recent, The Court and the World - American Law and the New Global Realities for Writers On A New England Stage.

Related Links

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Full decision)

Dred Scott v. Sandford (Full decision)

Benjamin Cardozo

Stephen Bryer

Above links lead to the fantastic internet database Oyez, a project of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Oyez combines detailed records of Supreme Court cases throughout documented history with clear summaries and, where available, full audio of oral arguments and opinions.

Itching for more SCOTUS stories? Check out our previous Writers on a New England Stage event with Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Radiolab's supreme spinoff More Perfect.