-by Jennifer Conway
We at The American Law Journal have addressed why our nation seems to be so divided— take a look at our Emmy-nominated feature report and program on toxic Gerrymandering for an initial clue. The Pew Research Center gives its reasons why we are divided and Justice Breyer suggests what we can each, individually, do about it— take a page from the Supreme Court’s deliberations on deeply divisive issues.
How do U.S. Supreme Court Justices debate contentious topics in which they strongly disagree? Justice Stephen Breyer answers this question at a National Constitution Center lecture. He offers timely advice that is more relevant in today’s increasingly polarized America.
“Do we shout at each other? No, we don’t shout at each other. I’ve been there for 20 years and I have never heard one justice raise his voice and shout at another. It’s civil, polite and professional, even though we might strongly disagree.”
Breyer continues with his Two Rules for Solving Conflict:
- Don’t speak twice until everybody has spoken once.
- Stay calm and listen. Respond to what the other person has said.
You would be surprised how often you can work things out.”
And why is America so divided, politically?
According to the Pew Research Center, there are 5 reasons for this.
Regardless of the why’s, Breyer’s message rings true— as evidenced by twenty years of civil discourse among Supreme Court justices— even when the issues could have been bitterly polarizing.