U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Speaks to University Graduates

December graduates of the University of South Carolina were given three hopes by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer on Monday, December 18 at their 2017 commencement exercise. Those hopes were to find someone to love, find a rewarding job and to spend a decent amount of time working in pubic service.

Breyer’s remarks started by speaking to the graduates about The Rule of Law and how it only work when the country’s citizens, not just judges and lawyers, take action. He told students that if they “don’t participate, this document doesn’t work”, referring to the U.S. Constitution. “It is this document that allows people to live together in peace,” said Breyer.

Breyer cited a conversation he had with the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana. He said she asked him, “Why do people do what you say?” He then spoke to the students about several key court cases in which citizens did not follow the order of the judge. First citing Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and then citing Brown v. Board of Education. All tying back to the idea that if citizens do not participate in their community, the Constitution does not work.

After receiving degrees from Stanford University, the University of Oxford’s Magdalen College and Harvard Law School, Breyer taught at Harvard from 1967 to 1994. He also held several other prominent positions before being nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994. He authored the 2010 book “Making Our Democracy Work.”

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer receives an honorary degree from the University of South Carolina board secretary Cantey Heath and board member William Hubbard.