Liberal Justice Breyer Weighing ‘Many Considerations’ About When To Retire


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


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer revealed this week that he is weighing “many considerations” about whether he should 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.

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.

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.

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