‘Through the Eyes of a Judge’
Legal studies undergraduates at Bay Path College received a unique view of the U.S. Supreme Court as they attended a dinner with and presentation by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. The inaugural speaker of the 2010 Springfield Public Forum Series, Justice Breyer addressed Bay Path students and others at Symphony Hall in Springfield, MA on September 21.
Breyer, who has served on the Court for the last 16 years, explained he was moved to begin writing and speaking about the work of the Court and his passion for the law by his predecessor, Harry Blackmun, who told him Americans really want to know about the Supreme Court. Through stories drawn from the history of the Court, Breyer discussed how an institution that “has neither the power of the sword nor the purse” can make difficult decisions that are accepted by Americans because of the nation’s deep respect for the rule of law and the Court.
The students from Bay Path’s ABA-approved legal studies program, many of whom are enrolled in constitutional law or criminal procedure courses, were excited to listen to Breyer refer to cases they read in their classes. They were particularly engaged by his quick wit and ability to recount, in detail, the events surrounding several critical moments in American history that gave rise to significant cases, notably Marbury v. Madison, Wister v. Georgia and Brown v. Board of Education. Many undergraduates commented that the experience deepened their understanding of the work of the Supreme Court, and enabled them to see the cases they read in a new light. The students were joined at the event by Bay Path faculty and alumnae, some of whom are students at Western New England College School of Law.