Supreme Court nominations have often sparked contentious battles on Capitol Hill. Judging from a recent report, Americans may be about to see another confirmation war unfold.
According to the Washington Examiner, Justice Stephen Breyer hinted in a recent interview that he might opt to retire while President Joe Biden is still in a position to nominate a replacement for him on the bench.
The Examiner cited comments made by Breyer during a talk with The New York Times.
“There are many things that go into a retirement decision,” he told the paper. “I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die — hope not.”
The “psychology” of the decision
Breyer went on to recall a quote from the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia: “He said, ‘I don’t want somebody appointed who will just reverse everything I’ve done for the last 25 years.”
The justice explained that the ideological outlook of whoever will replace him “will inevitably be in the psychology” of his choice of when to leave the bench.
However, Breyer has given no firm guarantees regarding when or even if he plans to retire, and that has some on the left feeling frustrated.
Dems shaking in their boots
Many Democrats are particularly concerned about seeing a repeat of the situation that played out following the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last fall.
Instead of stepping down during Barack Obama’s presidency, which would have allowed another Democrat to nominate a replacement for the liberal jurist, Ginsburg passed away under President Donald Trump, who put up now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett to take her place.
This time around, those on the left aren’t pulling their punches. The Examiner shared a tweet from the chief counsel for the left-leaning Demand Justice that read: “Breyer is holding on because he enjoys his new power — exactly the kind of thing he should be called out for.”
Democratic lawmakers have also expressed unease over the possibility that Breyer, who turned 83 earlier this month, could delay retirement until a Republican president is elected.
One of them is Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said in April that “Justice Breyer has been a great justice, and he recognizes, I am sure, the political reality of our having control of the Senate now,” according to the Examiner. “But elections always have risks,” the Democrat went on to point out, adding that he hopes Breyer is “aware of that risk, and he sees it accordingly.”