Smithsonian Associates Presents “Justice Stephen Breyer on Reading the Constitution”

March 7, 2024
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An older man wearing a striped buttondown shirt and red tie sits in a chair with a fireplace in background.

Smithsonian Associates presents an evening with recently retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Wednesday, March 27, at 7:45 p.m. ET. The event will be held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art at 1050 Independence Ave. S.W. and simulcast on Zoom. In conversation with Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, Breyer will examine different judicial approaches to interpreting the Constitution and the law and why he believes that textualism alone cannot and will not work.

Tickets for the Smithsonian Associates’ in-person program are sold out.

People who wish to attend virtually may purchase tickets for $25 by registering on the Smithsonian Associates website or calling 202-633-3030.

The ascendent judicial philosophy of textualism that now dominates the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Constitution by reading the text carefully and examining the language as it was understood at the time the document was written—to the exclusion of other evidence. Drawing from his new book, Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism, Breyer deconstructs the textualist philosophy of the current court’s supermajority and makes the case for a better, more traditional way to interpret the law.

For nearly 60 years, Smithsonian Associates—the world’s largest museum-based education program—has produced innovative, engaging learning experiences that bring the Smithsonian to life. Inspired by the Smithsonian’s research, collections and exhibitions, nearly 1,000 livestreamed and in-person programs spark creativity and excite learning in people of all ages each year.

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Lauren Lyons


Public Programs