Stephen Breyer says 'law will turn into chaos' if the Supreme Court overturns numerous cases

 March 26, 2024

Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said in his new book "Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism" that "law will turn into chaos" if the Supreme Court starts overturning a lot of cases, according to CBS News

"You overrule too many cases, and law will turn into chaos. And before you know it, you won't know what the law is," Breyer said. "What is the principle? Is the principle that you think those cases decided then were really wrong, egregiously wrong, totally wrong? And how are you going to decide that?"

Breyer is calling his approach to the Constitution "traditional" when it is actually liberal and interpretation-based, rather than the originalist view taken by conservatives.

He spoke to the court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, which gave the states wide latitude to restrict and ban abortion in whatever ways they saw fit and could get the legislature to pass.

Court not political

According to CBS News, Breyer said he wanted to seek a compromise with Chief Justice Roberts to rule that states could not ban abortions before 15 weeks, but the conservative majority would not agree to such a ruling.

Instead of looking at the original intent of the Constitution's framers and how it was understood when it was written, Breyer thinks the "purposes, consequences and values" of the law should be considered.

Breyer disagreed with accusations that the court was political.

"The political people desperately want to say that the judges are deciding on political bases. I don't think that's true," he said.

Keeping it civil

The justices keep things civil even when they disagree, he insisted. They take turns speaking and no one speaks twice in meetings until everyone else has spoken once.

"It's important because then everyone feels they've participated. Everyone feels that the others have a chance to listen to them."

Breyer, 85, still has an office at the court even though he is no longer a justice. He is able to give input, but obviously does not have a vote.

He tells young people who ask him for advice that the world is their now and they have to "get out and participate" to make the changes they want to see.

Focus on the election

Breyer's book releases Tuesday, but it's unclear whether it will sell well in the midst of a highly contentious election cycle when the country's focus is elsewhere.

Although abortion is likely to come up as a campaign topic, it is not most people's top issue as far as voting.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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