There has been growing chatter among those on the left — some subtle, some much more blunt — about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer giving up his gavel in the near future to give President Joe Biden the chance to name a left-leaning nominee to replace him.
But at 82 years old, the high court’s oldest justice hasn’t given any indication that he intends to retire any time soon — and for now, it seems Biden will leave the decision up to Breyer rather than pile on the pressure, The Hill reports.
WH leaves decision to Breyer
Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the issue during a press conference Friday. “What is the president’s view…of the calls for Justice Breyer to step down?” one reporter said, according to a White House transcript.
Psaki responded simply that Biden “believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s time to no longer serve on the Supreme Court.”
Asked if those pushing for Breyer’s retirement ought to “back off,” the press secretary doubled down. “I think I can just speak to what the president’s view is of the Supreme Court justice’s ability to make his own decision,” she said, according to the transcript. Take a look:
Biden won’t pressure Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from the Supreme Court, Psaki said Friday.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) April 9, 2021
Psaki was also asked Friday about a recent executive order from Biden establishing the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court — a purportedly “bipartisan” group of judges, lawyers, and legal scholars that will debate various proposed reforms to the federal judiciary and submit a report within 180 days. But unsurprisingly, the White House spokeswoman was happy to dance around the queries and avoid giving any real answers.
Pressure campaign continues
Of course, just because Biden isn’t turning up the heat on Breyer doesn’t mean the justice is out of the woods just yet.
As The Hill notes, a left-leaning advocacy group known as Demand Justice has been vocal about their stance on Breyer — namely, it’s time for him to go.
“We are now firmly in the window when past justices have announced their retirement, so it’s officially worrisome that Justice Breyer has not said yet that he will step down,” Brian Fallon, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
“The only responsible choice for Justice Breyer is to immediately announce his retirement so President Biden can quickly nominate the first-ever Black woman Supreme Court justice,” he added.
Demand Justice has also launched an online petition and even “hired a billboard truck” to spread the message, The Hill said. Only time will tell, however, if the pressure campaign is enough to convince Breyer to step down, especially with Biden apparently not on board.