Stephen Breyer

Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution Publication date : January 18, 2007

The present French edition was adapted by the author himself, who speaks French perfectly. The book was originally published in the United States as Active Liberty.

“The publication of the French edition is an honour which I am grateful to acknowledge, all the more so since I drew the main thesis of this book from a distinction made by a French philosopher. Two hundred years ago, Benjamin Constant distinguished between the liberty of the Ancients (democracy, active liberty, the right to take part in the State’s actions) and the liberty of the Moderns (individual freedom which must not be obstructed by the State’s actions). Even if Benjamin Constant, aware of the excesses of the Terror, emphasised modern freedom, he gave equal importance to the liberty of Antiquity. He underlined the need for a true modern democracy to guarantee that its citizens benefit simultaneously from both types of democracy. How can the United States Constitution, inspired by the principles of the Enlightenment, be interpreted so that these two dimensions of liberty are realised?
“Such is the central question of this book — a question which is of great relevance today both in France and the United States.”
Stephen Breyer

At a time when France appears to be undergoing an institutional crisis, this is an enlightening reflection on citizen participation, without which there can be no real democracy. The author is a Supreme Court Justice of the United States — a nation with a strong presidential regime.

“Stephen Breyer is an exemplary judge for our times. In the eyes of countless admirers and students he personifies what is most outstanding in the American legal system: a demanding conscience, nourished by extensive knowledge, in the service of an exalted conception of justice within a democracy.”
Robert Badinter

Stephen Breyer is a United States Supreme Court Justice.