Some students said the opportunity to meet and hear a talk from Stephen Breyer was a chance of a lifetime.
The associate justice of the Supreme Court spoke in front of a full house at Texas Hall as part of the Maverick Speaker Series' special edition. University President Vistasp Karbhari introduced Breyer and Mirah Horowitz, event moderator and Bryer's former clerk.
Breyer mainly talked about the concepts in his 2015 book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities. On that note, he stressed the importance of globalization in American law. Today, the Supreme Court must solve cases by looking at them in context to global happenings. Justices, like himself, can also learn from the policies and laws written and practiced in other countries to better understand cases.
Some people fear that globalizing the Supreme Court’s approach to cases may undermine American values, Breyer said.
"In today's world, the best way to protect our American values is to know something about what goes on elsewhere," Breyer said.
This idea resonated with alumnus Scott Kim. He liked that Breyer is willing to learn more about globalization. Kim said Breyer’s talk challenged him to participate more in public affairs.
Breyer answered questions from the UTA community on topics like the John F. Kennedy assassination and changes in the future Supreme Court.
The first question was about what classes are needed to be a lawyer. No courses are required on the undergraduate level for law, Breyer said. He encouraged students to learn a new language and read literature to take advantage of liberal arts classes.
“If I can learn Spanish, so can you,” Breyer said. “Don't give up on liberal arts."
Two students hoped Breyer would have touched on immigration rights.
History graduate student Joshua Chanin said the immigration system is broken and there should be equal access to obtaining green cards and citizenship. He had to wait eight years for his green card and now another two years for citizenship.
Civil engineering junior Enrique Gonzalez also expressed concerns about immigration reform and wanted to hear Breyer “bring hope to the immigrant community.”
Breton Hawkins, UTA College Democrats vice president, liked when Breyer encouraged students to get involved in politics. Breyer said without participation, the Constitution doesn’t work.
People need to be more informed about politics, so they can have options in the decision-making processes, said the undeclared freshman.
“If they don’t know about it, then there isn’t an option,” he said.