OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Joe Biden and the White House are worried that efforts to push liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer into retirement could backfire.
“Biden and his top advisors, including White House chief of staff Ron Klain, think some of those efforts are ‘tactically stupid,’ and could end up backfiring by making Breyer more determined to stay on the court. They also worry the open lobbying could further the de-legitimization and politicization of the court,” Axios reported.
“The President’s view is that any considerations about potential retirements are solely and entirely up to justices themselves,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates told Axios.
Democrats want Breyer to retire sooner rather than later.
Their concern is what happened when the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused to retire and then died when a Republican, Donald Trump, was in office and able to nominate someone to fill her seat.
Conservatives currently have a 6-3 advantage on the Supreme Court.
Democrats fear that if Breyer does not retire and Republicans win back the White House in 2024, they will be able to fill the potential vacancy, which would give them a massive 7-2 majority on the Court.
Beyond that, Breyer has said he does not have any retirement plans right now.
Breyer, who has been on the court for 27 years, said there are two prevailing factors in any retirement decision he makes.
“Primarily, of course, health. Second, the court,” he said back in August.
In April, Breyer gave a speech and attempted to downplay the role of politics on the court.
In the speech, he warned against the dangers of packing the court, as some Democrats have suggested.
“If the public sees judges as ‘politicians in robes,’ its confidence in the courts, and in the rule of law itself, can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power, including its power to act as a ‘check’ on the other branches,” the justice said.
“The court’s decision in the 2000 presidential election case, Bush v. Gore, is often referred to as an example of its favoritism of conservative causes,” he said. “But the court did not hear or decide cases that affected the political disagreements arising out of the 2020 [Trump v. Biden] election.”
Earlier this year, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden will let Breyer decide when he’s ready to retire.
“He believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s time to no longer serve on the Supreme Court,” Psaki said.
The statement comes after Biden announced last Friday that he would be forming a commission that will perform a 180-day study of potential changes to the Supreme Court, including court-packing and setting term limits for justices.
“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals,” the White House said in a statement.
“The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices,” the White House added.