Sitting justice Stephen Breyer reflects upon the authority of the Supreme Court--how that authority was gained and how measures to restructure the Court could undermine both the Court and the constitutional system of checks and balances that depends on it.
In April Justice Breyer spoke from a lectern to a Zoom audience, and now his speech is preserved in book form. Those wishing to know Justice Breyer’s thoughts can choose either to read the book or to watch the two-hour speech on YouTube. You’d feel edified in doing either ... Justice Breyer walks a tricky tightrope in arguing that it’s 'wrong to think of the Court as a political institution.' Without quite solving that paradox, Justice Breyer has given us an important document on American civics. He knows that Americans must foster a sense of mutual trust, which requires both understanding and engagement.
A [...] rosy view and idealism permeate [Breyer's] latest book, even as Breyer addresses the declining legitimacy of the Supreme Court in the public eye. He seeks to provide a historical backdrop to current public discussions about reforming the court. Like Breyer’s opinions and general life outlook, The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics reflects a balancing of interests and reverence for history. He declines to face up to the deepening gulf between blocs of justices, seen most recently in orders involving asylum policy, coronavirus measures and abortion rights. But Breyer does temper his optimism with some pragmatism ... The tone of Breyer’s book reflects his bridge-building nature.