Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will now retire after the end of this Supreme Court term, as reported by NBC News.
Justice Breyer’s retirement allows President Biden to appoint a more liberal successor.
Having been on the Court as a justice for over two decades, Breyer is the Supreme Court’s oldest justice at 83 years old. Breyer was nominated to the United States Supreme Court in 1994 by former Democrat President Bill Clinton.
In recent months, liberal activists heavily scrutinized Breyer’s choice to remain on the Supreme Court bench, mentioning his age and his opposition to court-packing.
In 2021, Brian Fallon, the executive director of the liberal group Demand Justice, stated, “We are now firmly within the window when previous justices have had their retirement, so it is worrisome that Breyer has not yet said stepped down.”
They demanded he retire so that President Joe Biden could nominate a younger liberal to replace him on the nation’s highest court. Progressives were pushing for Joe Biden to nominate more minorities to judgeships, hoping the court system could move leftward with its growing diversification.
Around the same time that progressives started pushing for Breyer’s retirement, White House media secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden would not pressure him to retire.
She said, “Biden believes that is a decision Justice Breyer will make when he thinks it is time to no longer be on the Supreme Court.”
Many people bemoaned the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s refusal to announce retirement — despite her prolonged sickness — during Obama’s presidency, causing Donald Trump to pick her successor after she died in 2020.
In a 2021 Harvard speech, Justice Breyer said that the Supreme Court’s power is dependent on “a trust that the court is guided by legal principles, and not politics” and that “structural alteration with the perception of political causes can only feed that latter idea, further removing trust.”
Breyer’s tenure within the U.S. Supreme Court is defined by his role in the liberal group alongside Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The White House is currently not giving any new information on Breyer’s retirement but says that Breyer himself made the choice.