(Host) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says for much of the nation’s history it wasn’t clear that Supreme Court decisions would actually be followed.
Breyer spoke over the weekend at the Calvin Coolidge Center in Plymouth.
He pointed out that the landmark Brown versus Board of Education school desegregation ruling in 1954 was defied by Arkansas authorities for several years. Finally, then-President Eisenhower sent troops to enforce it.
Breyer says Eisenhower’s decision was a turning point and made clear the importance of the court’s role.
(Breyer) "You can say, ‘well, did it matter what Eisenhower did?’ For me, I’m a judge. I’m prejudiced. I’m biased. I think what he did was fabulous. That it made a difference to the rule of law in America and it is exactly one of the things that has helped turn around and answer the question, ‘Will they do it?’ The question that has bothered the court through much of its history."
(Host) Breyer says its critical Americans have an understanding of how the judiciary works, if the courts are to effectively protect unpopular individuals and ideas.
Breyer has served on the high court since 1994, when he was appointed by President Clinton.
He’s just published his fourth book, "Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View".