Justice Stephen Breyer has been selected to receive the 2008 Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize. This national honor, bestowed by Fordham Law’s Stein Center for Law and Ethics, recognizes one individual each year whose work, according to the prize’s charter, “exemplifies outstanding standards of professional conduct, promotes the advancement of justice, and brings credit to the profession by emphasizing in the public mind the contributions of lawyers to our society and to our democratic system of government.”
“Justice Breyer has devoted his life to the public good,” said William Michael Treanor, dean of Fordham Law. “He was a brilliant, influential, and path-breaking scholar. His government service before taking the bench was of the highest quality. As a jurist, his opinions have been marked by thoughtfulness, balance, rigor, and a commitment to justice and liberty. He has been an eloquent and forceful champion of judicial integrity, as we saw this spring when he participated in a forum on judicial independence at Fordham Law together with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In every facet of his extraordinary career, he has embodied the great ideals of the Fordham-Stein Prize, and he is a superb honoree.”
Appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994, Justice Breyer had previously served as an assistant to the United States assistant attorney general for antitrust, an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and a special counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Following government service, Breyer taught at Harvard Law School and was also a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A leading expert on administrative law, he wrote a number of influential books and articles on issues ranging from deregulation to copyrights. He left teaching to join the bench, initially as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In 2005, in his book Active Liberty, Justice Breyer presented his views on how the judiciary can best encourage citizen participation in the government’s decision making process.
“In every phase of his professional life, as a lawyer in government service, as a scholar, as a judge and justice, Stephen Breyer has exemplified the values that the Fordham-Stein Prize honors,” said Bruce Green, co-director of Fordham Law’s Stein Center. “Justice Breyer is clearly an attorney whose career has been unwaveringly committed both to excellence and to upholding the integrity of the profession.”
Named after prominent Fordham Law alumnus Louis Stein ’26, the award recognizes the positive contributions of the legal profession to American society. Justice Breyer will accept the prize at a dinner in New York on October 29.
“The Stein Center, which sponsors the prize, has become synonymous with the thoughtful discussion of law and ethics in the scholarly community and among members of the bar. We are forever grateful to the members of the Stein family for their commitment to upholding this important tradition,” Dean Treanor said.
Justice Breyer joins a list of recipients that includes six other members of the U.S. Supreme Court, including two Chief Justices, and three lawyers who have served as Secretary of State. Recent recipients have included John Feerick ’61, professor and former dean of Fordham Law; Hon. Patricia M. Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Hon. Joseph M. McLaughlin; Attorney General Griffin Bell; Robert Fiske; and Chief Judge Judith Kaye.