In recent weeks progressives have called for justice Stephane Breyer withdraw from the Supreme Court in order to give Joe biden a chance to appoint a younger liberal judge. But on Wednesday, the 82-year-old responded to the speculation by telling CNN he has no impending retirement plans and is still enjoying his time on the bench. When asked if he had decided to opt out, Breyer simply answered “No” and described the two factors at play when he decided to opt out. “Mainly, of course, health,” he said. “Second, the court. Breyer, who was appointed by Bill clinton in 1994, also acknowledged the “satisfaction” he has felt since becoming the top leftist judge following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year. “[It] made a difference for me, ”noted Breyer. “It’s not a fight. It’s not sarcasm. It is a deliberation.
Progressives and Democrats rightly fear a similar outcome to Ginsburg’s death, whereby Mitch McConnell, with close Republican control of the Senate and Donald trump still in the White House, cornered by a conservative replacement for the 87-year-old liberal icon. The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett was Trump’s third choice during his tenure, giving Tories a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court, which led to devastating rulings on issues such as voting rights. Now, time is running out, as Democrats could lose their majority in the Senate in 2022, with the White House at stake in 2024.
Rep. Democratic Mondaire Jones urged Breyer to step down in April, saying: “There is no doubt that Judge Breyer, for whom I have great respect, is expected to retire at the end of this term. My God, haven’t we learned our lesson? In an interview with CNN last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she “would probably go for yes” when asked if she thought Breyer should hang up. “I would think about it more, but I’m inclined to say yes,” she added.
Breyer’s comments this week quickly set off alarm bells on Twitter. As Brian fallon Noted, the opportunity to replace Breyer with a justice chosen by Biden could elude him at any time. “Breyer’s health is not the only factor here. He’s also betting on the health of 50 Democratic senators over the next year, ”tweeted Fallon, who co-founded Demand Justice, a progressive group that calls for reforms to balance federal courts. Adam Serwer, a writer for Atlantic, went further in criticize Breyer’s decision, saying it “reflects a pathological contempt for other human beings at this point with the consequences evidenced by Ginsburg’s death.” Jamelle Bouié, a New York Times columnist, used Breyer’s announcement to demand that Supreme Court justices be subject to term limits that other federal officials face. “There should be term limits on the Supreme Court, if not the entire federal judiciary,” Bouie said. wrote on Twitter. “Even by the cowardly standards of American democracy, [it is] untenable to have people with so much power serving so long without any public scrutiny.
Breyer has long condemned the role open politics plays in the composition of the judiciary and in court decisions. “My experience of over 30 years as a judge has shown me that once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to the heart. They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped get their nomination, ”he said in April at a lecture at Harvard Law School. “If the public regards judges as politicians in their robes, their confidence in the courts, and in the rule of law itself, can only diminish, diminishing the power of the court.
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