Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Answers Hecklers Demanding He Retire


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the three current members of the court considered to be liberal, has faced a ton of calls for him to retire while Democrats control the White House and the Senate.

Some Democrats are concerned about a situation similar to that of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg happening again where a vacancy is to be filled by a Republican president or Senate.

And on Monday a group of activists heckled the justice as he was interviewed by CNN journalist Joan Biskupic, CNN reported.

The hecklers stood with signs that called on Justice Breyer to retire, prompting the CNN journalist to ask him about people who have called for him to retire.

“That’s their point of view. I’ve said pretty much what I’ve had to say. There are a lot of considerations and I don’t want to add to what I’ve had to say tonight,” the justice said.

“I’ve also said that I hope I don’t die on the Supreme Court, and there we are,” he said.



The interview was a wide-ranging one, with Justice Breyer addressing what it was like to see his colleagues again now that they can see each other in person.

“I mean you can’t really see what the people look like, how are they reacting. You can’t pick up something that your colleague said so easily. What is this colleague — what does he or she think of what’s going on. And when you’re there in person it’s a more human thing,” he said. “And I’d say that’s what it was: a big improvement today.”


But he said one of the advantages of having the arguments virtually was that “since we knew we were each going to have a turn of two or three minutes … you focus on the question and you focus on the answer — and that’s helpful.”

He also said he was “glad” to see that Justice Clarence Thomas was the first to ask questions in both of the cases the court heard on Monday as he has traditionally not been one to ask questions during the cases.

“Personally, I’m very glad that he did ask questions and I imagine will continue to do so. And he’s had plenty of chances to do that — he doesn’t like to interrupt other people,” he said of the conservative justice.


One of the justices he did not see in person during the new session was conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh who was diagnosed with COVID.

As noted by the Associated Press, the Supreme Court released a statement on Friday morning announcing that Kavanaugh had tested positive despite being fully vaccinated and showing no symptoms.

“The high court said in a press release Friday that Kavanaugh has no symptoms and has been fully vaccinated since January. Kavanaugh and all the other justices had a routine coronavirus test ahead of Friday’s ceremonial investiture for Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” the AP reported.

“The court says Kavanaugh’s wife and daughters are also fully vaccinated, and they tested negative on Thursday. The court says Kavanaugh and his wife will not attend the ceremony,” the AP report added. “Kavanaugh participated in the court’s private conference on Monday when he and his colleagues met at the court to review thousands of appeals that accumulated over the summer.”

As for Justice Breyer, this is not the first time he has heard calls for him to retire, with the most recent coming from former Democrat Sen. Al Franken.

Speaking to “New Day” host John Berman on CNN he said that he was frightened of precisely what happened when Justice Ginsburg died.

“What would you tell Stephen Breyer he should do? Berman asked the former senator.

“I’d tell him retire now or retire during this session or at the end of this session and be replaced because this is, of course, what happened when we lost Ginsburg,” he said.

“He’s gonna pull a Merrick Garland again, (Mitch) McConnell, and he said he would. That’s so shameless because the principle upon which he didn’t take up Merrick Garland was that it was an election year. Well then, our course (Supreme Court Justice Amy) Coney Barrett was seated nine days before the election, so he’s a shameless … he’s just shameless,” he said. “And so if I were Breyer, I’m not him, it’s his decision, but I definitely think he should retire.”

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