Margot Bots­ford, Asso­ciate Jus­tice for the Mass­a­chu­setts Supreme Judi­cial Court, to receive an hon­orary doctorate

March 17, 2008 – U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Stephen G. Breyer will deliver the com­mence­ment address at the North­eastern School of Law grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony on May 23.Justice Breyer is renowned as a cham­pion of “active lib­erty” –the active role of cit­i­zens in shaping their government.

Nearly 200 stu­dents will receive their juris doctor degree during the com­mence­ment cer­e­mony, which will take place on Friday, May 23 at 1 p.m. at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena. North­eastern will also present Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer with the hon­orary doc­torate of laws during the ceremony.

Jus­tice Breyer serves in one of our country’s most chal­lenging and most impor­tant posi­tions,” said North­eastern Pres­i­dent, Joseph E. Aoun. “The deci­sions he makes will influ­ence our nation and its cit­i­zens for gen­er­a­tions to come, and we are hon­ored that he will deliver the com­mence­ment address to our new law school grad­u­ates in May.”

Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer, a self-​​described “prag­ma­tist inter­ested more in solu­tions than the­o­ries,” was nom­i­nated by Pres­i­dent William Clinton in 1994 to serve on the United States Supreme Court, replacing the seat left by Jus­tice Harry Blackmun. Con­firmed by a Senate vote of 87–9, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer took his seat on August 3, 1994. Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer has been suc­cessful in building con­sensus among Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans, leading to his wide­spread respect as a Jus­tice of the highest court in the country.

Since serving on the Supreme Court, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer has been noted for how he inter­prets the Con­sti­tu­tion. He empha­sizes the impor­tance of inter­preting laws beyond their lit­eral meaning, focusing on the pur­pose and con­se­quences of the law and not relying solely on his­tor­ical inter­pre­ta­tion to solve today’s prob­lems. His 2005 book, Active Lib­erty: Inter­preting our Demo­c­ratic Con­sti­tu­tion, presents his view that the Con­sti­tu­tion was cre­ated to pro­vide cit­i­zens with lib­erty, and that this is best achieved when cit­i­zens take an active role in their gov­ern­ment. “I say ‘active lib­erty’ because I want to stress that democ­racy works if — and only if — the average cit­izen par­tic­i­pates,” Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer once stated in an inter­view on National Public Radio.

Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer has already made his mark on the Supreme Court. In 2000, he ruled against the deci­sion that took reg­u­la­tory powers for tobacco away from the Food & Drug Admin­is­tra­tion. In 2007, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer ruled against a deci­sion that stated race could not be a factor when placing stu­dents into public schools, a highly debated topic. He has also ruled on cases relating to cam­paign finance, prison sen­tencing, abor­tion rights, pri­vacy and the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state.

After receiving his juris doc­torate from Har­vard Law School, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer served in numerous posi­tions within the fed­eral judi­ciary system. His drive to suc­ceed is illus­trated by his career path, starting as a law clerk for former Asso­ciate Jus­tice Arthur Gold­berg, fol­lowed by a two-​​year posi­tion as spe­cial assis­tant for U.S. Assis­tant Attorney Gen­eral for Antitrust. In 1973, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer served as an assis­tant spe­cial pros­e­cutor on the Water­gate Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tion Force, a group that inves­ti­gated and pros­e­cuted Pres­i­dent Nixon for his involve­ment with the Water­gate Scandal. Shortly there­after, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer served on the U.S. Senate Com­mittee on the Judi­ciary as spe­cial counsel, which led to his appoint­ment to Chief of the com­mittee in 1979.

Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer con­tinued to move up the ranks, and in 1980, was nom­i­nated by Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter to serve as a Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals First Cir­cuit, housed in Boston. After serving ten suc­cessful years, he was granted the posi­tion of Chief Judge, which he car­ried out for the four years prior to being nom­i­nated to serve on the Supreme Court. During that time, Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer was also a member of the U.S. Sen­tencing Com­mis­sion, where he helped build uni­for­mity in crim­inal sen­tencing under the Fed­eral Sen­tencing Guidelines.

Asso­ciate Jus­tice Breyer also found a niche in higher edu­ca­tion. Between 1967–1994, he was an assis­tant pro­fessor, pro­fessor and a lec­turer of law, all at Har­vard Law School. He was also a pro­fessor at the Har­vard Uni­ver­sity Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, as well as a vis­iting pro­fessor at both the Col­lege of Law in Sydney, Aus­tralia and the Uni­ver­sity of Rome, Italy.

Jus­tice Breyer has con­sis­tently worked to devise effec­tive solu­tions in this ever-​​changing world,” said Emily Spieler, Dean of North­eastern School of Law. “Building on the breadth of his expe­ri­ences, he brings both prag­ma­tism and vision to the chal­lenges pre­sented to the Court.”

The Hon­or­able Margot Bots­ford, appointed by Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­ernor Deval Patrick in 2007 to serve as an Asso­ciate Jus­tice for the Mass­a­chu­setts Supreme Judi­cial Court, will also receive an hon­orary doc­torate of public ser­vice during the com­mence­ment cer­e­mony. Asso­ciate Jus­tice Bots­ford, who received her juris doctor from North­eastern School of Law and now serves on Northeastern’s Board of Trustees, is actively involved with the legal com­mu­nity as a member of the Mass­a­chu­setts Bar Asso­ci­a­tion, the Boston Bar Asso­ci­a­tion, and the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Women Judges.

Prior to her appoint­ment to Asso­ciate Jus­tice of the Mass­a­chu­setts Supreme Judi­cial Court, Bots­ford served for 18 years as the Asso­ciate Jus­tice of the Mass­a­chu­setts Supe­rior Court. Her long­standing career in the state’s judi­cial system includes serving as Assis­tant Attorney Gen­eral under Mass­a­chu­setts Attorney Gen­eral Francis X. Bel­lotti, fol­lowed by holding the Assis­tant Dis­trict Attorney posi­tion under Mid­dlesex County Dis­trict Attorney Scott Harsh­barger. Asso­ciate Jus­tice Bots­ford has also taught at North­eastern School of Law, Boston Uni­ver­sity Law School, the National Judi­cial Col­lege and the Flaschner Judi­cial Institute.

About North­eastern School of Law

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity School of Law is dis­tin­guished by its Coop­er­a­tive Legal Edu­ca­tion Pro­gram and its com­mit­ment to public interest law. The school offers a three-​​year course of study that alter­nates terms of tra­di­tional aca­d­emic study with terms of full-​​time pro­fes­sional employ­ment in 750 law offices, non­profit and legal aid agen­cies and courts nation­wide and around the world.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.