According to NBC News, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is going to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House and make the announcement that he will retire from the High Court. He will step down from his position at the end of the current term, according to people who are familiar with his plans.
Justice Breyer was nominated by former President Bill Clinton and he is one of just three liberal justices on the Supreme Court today. The other two liberal justices are Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. They were both appointed by former President Barack Obama.
Breyer has served on the High Court for 27 years and with his decision to retire, he will allow President Biden to make his first appointment to the court. This will enable Biden to keep the current 6-3 split between those appointed by conservatives and those appointed by liberals.
Justice Breyer has endured many calls for him to retire by progressive activists along with Democratic members of Congress. They want to provide a Democratic president the chance to make the next appointment to the court.
Forbes reported back in April 2021, “Progressive group Demand Justice launched a new ‘Breyer Retire’ campaign Friday urging U.S. Supreme Court Stephen Breyer to ‘retire now’ from the high court, putting more pressure on the liberal-leaning justice to step down while Democrats narrowly have Senate control after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death resulted in President Donald Trump choosing her successor.”
Brian Fallon, the Demand Justice Executive Director, said in a statement before this announcement that we are right in the window when past justices have announced their retirement. He said that it is worrisome that Justice Breyer had not yet said that he will step down. He also said that Breyer stepping down from the court was the only responsible choice.
This sentiment was echoed by Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones. Jones was the first member of Congress to publicly call for the 82-year-old justice to step down, according to a CNN report. When Jones was asked about Justice Breyer, he said that there was no question that he should retire this summer at the end of his term, especially before the end of Biden’s presidency. The congressman did say that he had the utmost respect for Breyer.
NBC News reported, “Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in May urging Breyer to retire that there are times ‘when the stewards of our system must put the good of an institution they love, and of the country they love, above their own interests. They have to recognize that no one, not even a brilliant justice, is irreplaceable and that the risks presented by remaining are more than hypothetical.’”
Back in August of 2021, Justice Breyer admitted that he would likely retire at some stage, but he told the New York Times that many things go into a decision to retire. He noted a conversation that he had with former Justice Antonin Scalia on the idea of retirement. Breyer remembered that Scalia said that he did not want somebody appointed who would just reverse everything that he had done for the last 25 years. Breyer admitted that this was some of the thinking that would go into his decision regarding retirement.
He did say that he hoped that he was not going to stay on the court until he died. But he thinks that they are a lot of blurred things that happen that need to be considered. He said that he would try to put them together as a whole and make the decision. But he also said that he did not like making decisions about himself.