Justice Stephen Breyer plans to step down from his Supreme Court position later this year. Bill Clinton appointed Breyer to the Supreme Court in 1994. When Court’s current term ends on October 3rd, he will vacate the position he has held for more than 27 years. His exit is a forward-thinking and strategic move.
At 83 years old, Stephen Breyer is the oldest Justice on the Supreme Court, according to NBC News. Additionally, he is one of three liberal-leaning Justices. Currently, six of the nine Justice are conservative-leaning. Breyer hopes to maintain the 6-3 split by vacating his seat in October. This will allow President Joe Biden to appoint a judge.
For liberals, progressives, and other Democrats, it is important that Stephen Breyer step down in October. Currently, the Democratic Party holds both the White House and the Senate which makes appointing a new justice easier. However, many fear that they will lose control of the Senate after the midterm elections in November.
Many on the Left Have Called for Stephen Breyer to Retire
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died in 2020 at the age of 87 from cancer. She stayed on the Supreme Court until she died. However, she passed away during the Trump administration. As a result, Trump was able to appoint Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Justice. Many on the left criticized Ginsberg for staying on as long as she did. They say she should have stepped down while Obama was in office.
Those same people have been calling for Stephen Breyer to step down since Biden took office. In theory, Biden will replace him with another left-leaning Justice that will be able to serve for decades. In short, many on the left don’t want to see Breyer’s seat go to a conservative thus shifting the Court even further to the right.
For instance, Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California Berkley School of Law’s dean wrote an op-ed that focused on Breyer. In the article, he urged Stephen Breyer to step down. He wrote, “the stewards of our system must put the good of an institution they love, and of the country they love, above their own interests.” He went on to say that even a “brilliant Justice” like Breyer is replaceable. Chemerinsky added, “the risks presented by remaining are more than hypothetical.”
Biden Already Looking for Breyer’s Replacement
At the urging of his more progressive base, Joe Biden has pledged to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. NBC News reports that Biden will likely choose one of two candidates. One is U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who is on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Brown Jackson was previously Breyer’s law clerk. Biden may also choose Leondra Kruger who serves as a Justice on California’s Supreme Court.