The Hill reports that some are predicting the retirement of liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the court’s oldest member, in the near future, possibly even before the end of the summer.
“A number of court watchers expect that Breyer, 82, will announce his departure this summer,” the outlet reports.
With the retirement of a Supreme Court justice, timing is everything.
That’s because the sitting president nominates his or her replacement and the Senate confirms or denies it, meaning that, if a liberal justice retires or otherwise vacates his or her seat while Republicans are in charge, then he or she will likely be replaced with a conservative justice, thereby altering the balance of the court.
We saw this very thing happen recently with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She, unfortunately, passed away just last year, but at a time when Donald Trump was still president and the Senate was controlled by Republicans. This allowed Trump and the Republicans to replace Ginsburg with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative.
Accordingly, it is often the case that older Supreme Court justices are pressured by their own political party to retire while that party holds office so that the justice can be replaced by a judge with a similar ideological background. Ginsburg, herself, was put under such pressure to retire when the Democrats were in control, but she refused.
Now, the justice who is facing this pressure is Breyer. At 82-year-old, he is the Supreme Court’s oldest justice, and the left is trying hard to make sure that he does not repeat the same mistake as Ginsburg – leaving when Republicans are in control. And, what the left is very aware of is that Republicans could be back in control very soon. In the Senate, for example, all that needs to happen is for one Democrat to leave for whatever reason for Republicans to have the majority, which would give them the power to block a Supreme Court pick made by President Joe Biden.
It is for this reason that Democrats are urging Breyer to retire as soon as possible.
But, will he?
At the moment, it does not look as though Breyer is going to give in to this pressure.
Breyer has yet to really publicly hint at whether or not he has any plans on retiring any time soon. But, reports indicate that he has already hired his clerks for the Supreme Court’s next term.
This, of course, would suggest that those predicting Breyer’s imminent retirement are wrong.
But, this is certainly something to keep an eye on.