A Light-Hearted Look into the Mind of Justice Breyer
Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Justice Stephen Breyer on Monday suggested that if cameras were allowed into the Supreme Court, viewing Americans might get a distorted impression of the cases being argued.
Justice Breyer’s “Late Show” stop was so far his most visible speaking engagement in connection with the release of his new book, “The Court and the World.” (The justice also spoke with WSJ’s Jess Bravin last week.)
In the middle of the interview, Mr. Colbert asked the justice about the Supreme Court’s camera ban. “If you had cameras in the courtroom, you could just put your book on the edge of your desk,” the comedian joked.
“When I’m deciding a case, I’m deciding it for 315 million people who are not in that courtroom. The rule of law, the rule of interpretation, it applies to everybody,” said Justice Breyer. He added: “But human beings — correctly and decently — relate to people they see, and they’ll see two lawyers, and they’ll see two clients. Will they understand the whole story? Will they understand what we’re doing? Will there be distortion?”
During Monday’s segment, Justice Breyer described a workplace filled with disagreement but devoid of rancor.
“I have never heard a voice raised in anger. I have never heard one member of our court say something insulting about another, not even as a joke,” Justice Breyer said, starting to raise his voice with passionate enthusiasm. “Of course, we disagree… but the discussion is professional, it is serious, and it is not personal, and we are good friends despite the fact that we agree some of the time and we disagree others of the time.”
“You’re yelling at me right now,” a half-serious Colbert interjected. And with that the host thanked the justice for being on his show.