In response to the current conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, many on the left have advocated for adding more justices to be nominated by a Democratic president.
At least one progressive justice, however, is speaking out against such a plan, warning that “what goes around comes around.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, who is facing his own pressure to retire so he can be replaced by President Joe Biden, opened up on the concept of court-packing in a recent interview.
Speaking with NPR, he argued that “people respect the court even when they disagree with it because the public at large has come to understand and respect the law.”
If partisan operatives “fiddle with the court’s structure,” Breyer added, “we will be frittering away all of the long-won respect the court has earned.”
The justice, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, questioned whether people will continue to “respect the court’s decisions” or “abide by decisions that they think are just delivered by a bunch of pols.”
Speaking from his decades of experience, Breyer asserted that it is “very, very difficult to get people who think that some court decision is totally wrong to think that [he] should follow it nonetheless.”
Nevertheless, he pointed out that adding new members to the court would likely lead to Republicans doing the same as soon as they were in a position to do so.
“If the Democrats can do it, the Republicans can do it,” Breyer added. “Beware. Be careful.”
There appears to be no indication that Democrats in favor of packing the court have heeded Breyer’s advice.
In April, Fox News reported that Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) came out in favor of adding additional justices. He was joined in support by Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY), both of whom said they would be introducing legislation aimed at inflating the size of the Supreme Court bench.
As for those calling for him to step down, Breyer said that he does not intend to serve on the court until he dies, but added: “And when exactly I should retire, or will retire, has many complex parts to it. I think I’m aware of most of them, and I am, and will consider them.”