Breyer’s retirement to signal end to Bill Clinton’s direct impact on Supreme Court

The Associated Press reported this week that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire from his position on the bench at the end of the court’s current term.

According to Fox News, the 83-year-old’s retirement will bring an end to former President Bill Clinton’s direct influence on the nation’s highest court.

Clinton’s impact on the court

Nominated and confirmed in 1994, Breyer was the second of two appointees by Clinton, who in 1993 nominated and saw confirmed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg died in 2020, prompting then-President Donald Trump to appoint Amy Coney Barrett to take her place.

According to Fox, Clinton will still have something of an influence on the court by way of his connections to the two remaining liberal justices appointed by former President Barack Obama: Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

Kagan, for her part, served as an associate White House counsel during the Clinton administration. Sotomayor, meanwhile, was appointed by Clinton in 1997 to fill a vacancy on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dems hope for “swift confirmation”

Citing “people familiar with his thinking,” NBC News was the first to report Wednesday that Justice Breyer intended to step down from the court at the end of the current term.

According to the AP, Breyer was expected to appear alongside Biden at the White House on Thursday to confirm the news.

“Democrats are planning a swift confirmation” of his successor, the AP added, “perhaps even before Breyer officially steps down, which is not expected before summer.”

Who will Biden pick?

As for who could be Biden’s pick, Politico reported that then-candidate Biden had vowed during the 2020 campaign season to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court if a vacancy arose during his tenure in office.

While the White House wouldn’t yet confirm reports of Breyer’s impending retirement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did make clear in Wednesday’s briefing that Biden stands behind his campaign pledge. “The President has stated and reiterated his commitment to nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court and certainly stands by that,” she said.

There are a number of judges who would fit that bill, but the most likely nominee seems to be Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson, who previously clerked for Breyer and just last year was appointed by Biden to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, filling the vacancy left by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Others said to be on the shortlist, according to the AP, include “prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill and U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs.”

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