Justice Stephen Breyer on Boston’s New Moakley Courthouse

Notes on our experience interviewing Stephen G. Breyer.

When we secured an interview with Supreme Court justice Stephen G. Breyer, we decided to take full advantage of it. So, in September, in addition to dragging along our photographer, Webb Chappell, to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Susan Szenasy and I also brought a  videographer to film it. We weren’t entirely sure how we would use the resulting footage, but it seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up.

We were in Boston for two reasons. Breyer has an office at the Moakley Courthouse and is usually there when the Supreme Court is not in session. Prior to being nominated to the high court, he served as an appeals judge in Boston and played a leading role in the architect selection process for the courthouse (the eventual winner, Pei Cobb Freed). As it turns out, Breyer was an incredibly gracious host, greeting us downstairs in the rotunda, even buying the assembled crew coffee from the cafeteria. We spoke for an hour in his office, and then Breyer invited his former colleague, Judge Douglas P. Woodlocke, to accompany us on a tour of the building.

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Our intrepid videographer, Ken Richardson, shot as much of the courthouse as our limited schedule allowed, and then our editor, Julie Rossman, did a wonderful job of taking those images and weaving them into a compelling whole. Justice Breyer’s passion for the Constitution, for the importance of architecture in the public realm, and for good design, is palpable.

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