Justice Stephen Breyer announced this past January that he was planning to retire after having spent nearly three decades on the Supreme Court.
The time for him to step down has begun to draw near, with Reuters reporting on Wednesday that he has just heard oral arguments in his last case.
Questions over who should prosecute non-Native American offenders on tribal land
According to the news agency, that case revolves around whether non-Native Americans who commit crimes on tribal land against Native American victims should remain under state jurisdiction.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh expressed concern that a lack of federal resources could lead to crimes going unpunished saying, “I don’t see how it would help Indian victims. It’s going to hurt Indian victims.”
CBS News reported that at the end of the day, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered an emotional farewell to his departing colleague.
“For 28 years, this has been his arena for remarks profound and moving, questions challenging and insightful, and hypotheticals downright silly,” Roberts was quoted as saying.
“Now, at the appropriate time, we will in accordance with tradition and practice, read and enter into the record an exchange of letters between the court and Justice Breyer marking his retirement,” he continued.
The chief justice concluded by declaring, “For now, we leave the courtroom with deep appreciation for the privilege of sharing this bench with him.”
Laughter as some of Breyer’s humorous statements were recalled
CBS News noted that Justice Clarence Thomas could at one point be heard “could be heard laughing” as Roberts read out some of the humorous hypotheticals that Breyer was known for bringing up.
These included references to “radioactive muskrats,” “John the Tiger Man,” “tomato children,” and speculation on whether a garage door sensor could be eaten by a raccoon.
First appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, Breyer is being replaced by Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will be the nation’s first female African American justice.
Brown was confirmed despite objections from Republican senators who said that she had been too soft on child pornography offenders while serving as a federal judge.