A number of prominent progressive groups and activists have been pressuring liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire in time for President Joe Biden to replace him with another left-leaning justice.
Thus far, he has resisted those calls, but a recent report suggests that retirement is a matter he is actively considering.
“I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die”
According to the Washington Examiner, Breyer recently acknowledged that he is thinking about when he should step down from the lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court, as well as who his successor might be.
The justice sat down for an interview with The New York Times for an article released this week. In it, he directly addressed the looming question.
“There are many things that go into a retirement decision,” Breyer said. “I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die — hope not.”
He went on to cite advice from the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who once told him: “I don’t want somebody appointed who will just reverse everything I’ve done for the last 25 years.”
Accordingly, he told the Times that the judicial philosophy of any potential replacement is a consideration as he plans a potential exit from the court.
“Primarily, of course, health”
Breyer has been a Supreme Court justice since 1994 when he was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton. Now, he is clearly interested in protecting nearly three decades’ worth of liberal decisions.
At the age of 83, retirement would not be a shocking decision. Earlier reports, however, signaled that increasing pressure from partisans might be having the opposite effect.
Breyer previously summed up his retirement philosophy succinctly, explaining: “Primarily, of course, health. Second, the court.”
For their part, leftist activists do not want to see a repeat of what happened following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the Trump administration. Ginsburg faced similar pressure to retire when President Barack Obama was still in office.
So far, Breyer has resisted calls for him to step aside. Based on his most recent remarks, there is no indication that such an announcement is coming anytime soon, much to the dismay of progressives everywhere.