The eldest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Breyer, is slated to retire at the end of the current term, which ends early summer 2022. Justice Breyer is 83 years old.
President Biden vowed while running that he would fill any upcoming Supreme Court vacancies with a black female, which would be a first for the land’s highest court. Only two African Americans have served on the Supreme Court. The first was Thurgood Marshall, and he was replaced by the second, Clarence Thomas.
Getting the Supreme Court nominee of his choice confirmed would be a political win for President Joe Biden.
While Justice Breyer has yet to make the announcement official, Fox News has spoken to a source close to Breyer, who confirmed that Breyer would step down this summer.
The justice and his possible retirement have been the subject of rumors and activists who called for his retirement in favor of filling the spot with a progressive judge. However, Breyer could never be called a conservative. Breyer tends to vote with fellow liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Those close to Breyer say that he did not make this decision due to any outside pressure and that he is not being forced out of his position.
Breyer was one of the justices who voted to strike down a Louisiana abortion law in 2019. He was also one of the justices who voted to keep the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Breyer was appointed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton. He was confirmed by a vote of 87 – 9.
Breyer’s retirement has thrown some speculation around the success of President Biden being able to successfully nominate a replacement. At present, the Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris to provide a tie-breaking vote. Technically, this means Democrats hold the majority. Senate rules allow for a simple majority vote in the area of a Supreme Court nominee. However, all Democrats will have to vote for the nominee for the individual to be confirmed.
Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said on Wednesday that a replacement for Breyer “will be confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed.”
President Joe Biden has yet to comment on the retirement of Breyer. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki related that the White House will not be commenting for now on the retirement of Breyer.
As with the announcement of any retirement from the land’s highest court, D.C. is already buzzing with possible replacements for Breyer. Biden has already successfully nominated Kentanji Brown Jackson to the D.C. Circuit Court; it is possible he may tap her for Breyer’s position.
At the same time, Republicans seem to be preparing to oppose whomever Biden’s eventual choice may be. A tweet from Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino stated, “The Left bullied Justice Breyer into retirement and now it will demand a justice who rubber stamps its liberal political agenda.”
Even though Biden’s nominee will likely be a more progressive justice, his nominee will do nothing to change the current make-up of the court. Currently, the Court possesses six conservative judges and three liberal judges.