Breyer’s Contribution to Our Legal System: Making the Law Practical

Jenny S. Martinez 2

(Originally published by The Washington Post on January 26, 2022)

When I was a law clerk for Breyer, he had a rule that his opinions should have no footnotes (legal citations in the text were permitted). This was a fairly shocking policy. Most lawyers love footnotes, the perfect place to tuck in random caveats and muddy the waters.

But Breyer didn’t write just for the lawyers, or at least not the ones who love footnotes. His approach was driven by a belief that the Constitution belongs to “we the people,” as stated in its preamble — and that the people ought to be able to understand what the Supreme Court is saying.

(Continue reading the opinion essay on The Washington Post’s page here.)