Stephen Breyer, nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Clinton Friday, is a respected jurist who seems to have survived the rough-and-tumble of Washington politics without making partisan enemies.
A former Watergate assistant prosecutor and chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider his appointment, Breyer is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.
He was also the chief architect of airline deregulation--one of the most contentious legislative issues of the 1970s--and helped hammer out federal sentencing guidelines as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1985 to 1989.
One of the last federal judges appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, Breyer was touted for possible appointment to the Supreme Court last year but passed over when Clinton instead appointed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Breyer has many backers in the House and Senate Judiciary Committee from Republican conservatives like Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah to liberal Democrat Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
“Judge Breyer would bring to that court an ability to . . . form coalitions,” Kennedy said of Breyer earlier this year.
Stephen Breyer was born Aug. 15, 1938, in San Francisco.
He graduated with highest honors from Stanford University in 1959 and two years later earned a B.A. degree from Magdalen College at Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics as a Marshall Scholar.
After graduating magna cum laude in 1964 from Harvard Law School, where he is still a lecturer on administrative law and economic regulation, Breyer clerked for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.
After a two-year stint in the antitrust division of the Justice Department, Breyer was enlisted by then-Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, his former law professor, as an assistant special prosecutor.
His first appointment to the judicial bench came in 1960.
Friends and associates say Breyer is no ideologue. He has concentrated on cases involving copyright, anti-trust and government regulation. But his views on controversial social issues like abortion and the death penalty are not known.
A legal scholar whose writing style tends to be straightforward and concise, Breyer has co-authored a leading case book on administrative law and regulatory policy.
He was a professor of antitrust, administrative law and economic regulation at Harvard Law School for 10 years and also taught for much of the same time at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Breyer is reportedly a millionaire. According to a Boston Herald review of 1991 financial disclosure forms, the Breyers are worth between $3.44 million and $5.75 million.
The judge is married to the former Joanna Hare, British-born daughter of Lord John Blakenham, a former Cabinet minister. She is a prominent Boston psychologist on the staff of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
The couple has three children: Chloe, 25, Nell, 22, and Michael, 19.