There are so many incredible speakers and guest lecturers that pass through the doors of the Law School that I admit I have become slightly jaded to the prominence and import of the visitors. Should I go to the Arianna Huffington lecture or catch up on my email? Will I spend the evening at the Albie Sachs talk or checking out a new restaurant? Occasionally I regret missing a great lecture in favor of some administrative task, but attending every event that happens around here would be a full-time job. Plus, I'm sure all of you still waiting for an admission decision would be unhappy if I neglected my admissions duties to become a professional lecture attendee. However, when a sitting member of the Supreme Court of the United States comes to your school to give a lecture, as happened here a few weeks ago, you don't miss it.
The Law School was honored to have Associate Justice Breyer visit on February 15 and 16 for a pair of lectures titled, "Making the Constitution Work: A Supreme Court Justice's View." It's uncommon for sitting Justices to give formal lectures, much less two on consecutive days at the same venue, so there was a lot of excitement around the School, and the Yale campus, when they were announced. As a testament to the significance of the event, the line of people waiting to get into the first lecture ran the length of the School (a city block for those of you unfamiliar with YLS).
The first lecture, "History: Challenges the Court Has Faced," highlighted key moments in the Court's history that illustrate the importance of public acceptance of the Court's decisions, as well as challenges the Court has faced in achieving such public acceptance. The second lecture, "Future: Will the People Follow the Court?" was open only to members of the Law School community. In it, Justice Breyer shared his thoughts on what the Court must do in the future to make the Constitution work well in practice and to maintain the public trust it has earned. Both lectures were based on a book on which Justice Breyer is currently working.
"History: Challenges the Court Has Faced" and "Future: Will the People Follow the Court?" can be streamed from the Law School's website. During his time at the Law School, Justice Breyer sat down with Professor Paul Gewirtz for a one-on-one interview. You can access the interview from the Law School's website or through Yale University's YouTube page.