Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Breyer Pledges Self to Letter, Spirit of Laws

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Breyer Pledges Self to Letter, Spirit of Laws

Article excerpt

With a spirited Rose Garden sendoff from President Bill Clinton, Judge Stephen G. Breyer began on Monday what is expected to be an easy trek to confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Breyer promised to pursue a pragmatic course if confirmed and "make law work for people." Pledging to cut through legal jargon and write clearly, Breyer also promised: "No footnotes - or as few as possible."

Senate confirmation of Breyer, 55, was not in doubt. Breyer, a political centrist, has been widely praised across the spectrum. And even one detractor, Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, predicted overwhelming approval.

Metzenbaum contends that Breyer has betrayed consumer interests as a federal judge in siding with big business in a series of antitrust rulings.

As a Senate aide, Breyer wrote legislation to deregulate the nation's airlines. But he sought to avoid labels in his White House speech, saying he was proud of just one, "that of judge."

"If I am confirmed . . . I will devote myself to the best of my ability to ensuring that both the letter and the spirit of our laws continue to serve the people of this country," he told an audience made up of members of his family, senators and administration officials.

Breyer, now chief judge of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, told the gathering that he saw the Constitution and law as "more than mere words."

"They must work as a practical reality," he said. "And I will certainly try to make law work for people, because that is its defining purpose in a government of the people."

Breyer was to begin making courtesy calls on Senate members today, although confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are not expected until July. Breyer once served as chief counsel for the committee and is popular with its Democratic and Republican members.

He was being shepherded through the process by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., one of his first bosses when he worked in the Senate. White House aides said Breyer also would be prepared by a team of lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department.

Clinton said at the White House ceremony, "Judge Breyer will bring to the court a well-recognized and impressive ability to build bridges in the pursuit of justice. …

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