Early life and education
Breyer was born on August 15, 1938, in San Francisco, California, the son of Anne A. (née Roberts) and Irving Gerald Breyer, and raised in a middle-class Jewish family. Irving Breyer was legal counsel for the San Francisco Board of Education. Stephen Breyer and his younger brother, Charles, a federal district judge, are both Eagle Scouts of San Francisco's Troop 14. Breyer's paternal great-grandfather emigrated from Romania to the United States, settling in Cleveland, where Breyer's grandfather was born. In 1955 Breyer graduated from Lowell High School. At Lowell, he was a member of the Lowell Forensic Society and debated regularly in high school tournaments, including against future California governor Jerry Brown and future Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe.
Breyer received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Stanford University, a Bachelor of Arts from Magdalen College, Oxford in PPE as a Marshall Scholar, and a Bachelor of Laws from Harvard Law School. He is also fluent in French.
In 1967 Breyer married Joanna Freda Hare, a psychologist and member of the British aristocracy, as the youngest daughter of John Hare, 1st Viscount Blakenham. They have three adult children: Chloe, an Episcopal priest and author of The Close; Nell; and Michael.