Bloomberg Law
Jan. 26, 2022, 6:23 PM

Breyer, King of Hypotheticals on the Bench, Ending His Reign

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson
Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson

Deadly tomato children. Poisoned chocolate sauce. Grape-shaped hairbrushes.

These are just some of the odd and sometimes fantastical images conjured up by Stephen Breyer in hypotheticals posed to lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court during 27 years as a justice. He’s retiring, according to a person familiar with the justice’s thinking.

Hypotheticals, the favorite tool of legal academics, came naturally to Breyer, who taught at Harvard Law School for more than two decades.

“The point is to try to focus on a matter that is worrying me,” Breyer said in a 2008 interview with Associated Press. “Sometimes it’s easier to ...

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