In his keynote speech at the Massachusetts Bar Association's
Centennial Ball, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer
celebrated the crucial role that lawyers play in shaping laws,
fighting for the judiciary and educating and mentoring
MBA President Denise Squillante welcomed an audience of nearly
1,000 people in the Sheraton Boston ballroom for the Centennial
Ball. Breyer's keynote address on May 19 was the highlight of the
two-day Centennial Conference.
"To lead the MBA through its centennial year has been remarkable.
I've enjoyed tremendously being at the helm of this influential
organization as it celebrates its hundredth anniversary,"
Squillante said. "Tonight, we celebrate the MBA's rich heritage and
look to its promising future. I welcome the opportunity to work
with many of you to begin its next century of service to the
public, the profession and the rule of law."
MBA Past President Michael E. Mone (1993-94), a civil litigation
trial attorney with Esdaile, Barrett & Esdaile, introduced
Breyer: "He does us a great honor being here tonight. He is a great
Breyer, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994 after
serving as chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals, touched upon
the MBA's history. While practicing law is not as simple as it used
to be, Breyer noted that the MBA has remained true to its founding
"It isn't surprising to me that the Massachusetts Bar Association
holds the position of respect that it does," he said. Looking back
to the start of the MBA, Breyer noted, "This organization was
founded by Holmes and Brandeis. And it was racially integrated from
He rattled off a number of the association's historical
responsibilities - including public service, defending the
judiciary and nurturing students' civic knowledge - noting
that a century later, it's "the same job, but tougher now."
He also talked about the importance of the U.S. Constitution, but
also about how important it is in the way it's used to reach
landmark rulings like 1954's Brown v. Board of Education,
and then in the way it was used in 1957 to physically escort black
students into a Little Rock, Ark. high school safely.
"That was a great day: A great day for the law, a great day for
equality, and a great day for the United States of America," Breyer
said, adding that "No law is any better than the will of the people
to enforce it."
Breyer said he was impressed by the turnout, saying that seeing so
many lawyers turn out reflects well on the profession and the
important work lawyers are called upon to do, particularly in terms
of public service.
He ended on a rousing note in honor of the event's milestone: "The
only five words I really want to say are 'happy birthday,
Massachusetts Bar Association!'"