At the 1 hr 10 mins 0 secs instant, Justice Stephen G Breyer says:

I obviously have not convinced you. [laughter] I’m just trying to acquaint you with the arguments on the two sides. I forgot one which is important, psychologically. It’s not a logical argument, but it is a support in psychologically [Did I mistranscribe here?]. Every one of us, while you are there, I am there, not one of us thinks that we are doing at any minute, what 99% of the people think we are doing, which is doing what we want. I think almost all the time, I am not. We are trustees, that’s what we think of. We are trustees of an institution, and that institution has served America, well in the past, OK we hope in the present, and who knows about the future. So some of us may think, if we were to vote for something with the implications of change we know not what, be careful. That is called being very conservative about working major changes on this institution. That’s not a logical argument. It is a psychological argument, but I would not understate its importance.

Would someone please explain why Justice Breyer himself confirms that this isn't a logical argument, for supporting why television cameras should remain banned in the US Supreme Court? This argument looks logical to me, and more logical than psychological, because he didn't cite any psychology?

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    I would not read too much into single words in a spoke statement like this ... What comes across to me is that he is raising the bar by arguing that judges would have to be convinced on both objective (i.e. logical) and subjective (i.e psychological) grounds. Also, in the "logical" part he is basically making a conservative argument, and by saying "it's not a logical argument" he is making room for other logical causes that are not conservative, of which a number (I assume) are dear to him. If I am correct, this by itself is also "psychological" :)
    – Drux
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


He's acknowledging that he's appealing more to emotion than to reason. As someone very experienced in the law, he would be quite familiar with all types of logical fallacies. He doesn't want to appear as if he doesn't realize his line of reasoning doesn't make for a strong logical case.

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