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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Talks Retirement, Does Not Intend To ‘Die On The Court’

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, regarded as a liberal, addressed the calls from many Democrats that he retire when he can be replaced by a Democrat president and Senate.

He spoke to host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” where he said he does not plan on dying as a member of the court as his colleague, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did.

Wallace played a video of an interview he had with the late Justice Antonin Scalia where the justice said “I would not like to be replaced by someone who immediately sets about undoing everything that I’ve tried to do 25 years, 26 years. Sure I shouldn’t have to tell you that. Unless you think I’m a fool”

“Do you agree with Scalia that a justice who is unmindful of the politics of the president who replaces him is a fool?” Chris Wallace said.

“I don’t intend to die on the court,” Breyer responded. “I don’t think I’ll be there forever.”

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“I see the point,” Justice Breyer said. “Probably in the background there are many considerations. Many, many considerations.”

Wallace then asked him about Democrats who have been calling for him to retire as he played a clip of Sen. Amy Klobuchar he should retire “sooner rather than later, if [he is] concerned about the court.”

“I think they’re entitled to their opinion,” he said as he laughed.

“There are factors. There are many factors, in fact, quite a few, and the role of the court and so forth is one of them,” he said, “and the situation, the institutional considerations.”

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After that Wallace asked him why he didn’t retire and Breyer responded, “I didn’t retire because I decided on balance I wouldn’t retire.”

In an interview with the New York Times, the 83-year-old liberal justice said one of the factors he’s considering is who would Joe Biden nominate to be his successor.

Breyer said he did not want his potential replacement to undo his nearly two decades of work on the bench.

“I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die — hope not. There are a lot of blurred things there, and there are many considerations,” Breyer said.

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Earlier this month, it was reported that Joe Biden and the White House are worried that efforts to push 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.

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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.

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