Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer hasn’t decided when he will retire from the bench, he told CNN in an interview.
The 27-year veteran of the high court also said he feels especially gratified with his role as the senior liberal on the bench.
Breyer, who will turn 83 in August, made the comments as progressive groups have urged him to leave the lifetime position so President Joe Biden can name a replacement while Democrats have a majority in the Senate.
With the Supreme Court’s balance being six conservative justices to three liberal ones, replacing Breyer with another liberal might not change the makeup of the court, but it would preserve the status quo.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in June that it’s “highly unlikely” that he would allow Biden to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2024 if Republicans regain the Senate.
Justice Stephen Breyer has not decided when he will retire and is especially gratified with his new role as the senior liberal on the bench, he told @JoanBiskupic in an exclusive interview.https://t.co/IpZTDN6w0Y pic.twitter.com/XXDG3f7qbv
— New Day (@NewDay) July 15, 2021
Breyer’s comments may frustrate progressive groups with fresh memories of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg choosing not to retire under former President Barack Obama. Former President Donald Trump nominated conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to Ginsburg’s seat after her death.
“The decision about whether or not to remain on the Court is not just about whether [Breyer] likes his job. The decision concerns millions of Americans whose personal fates will be impacted by the future composition of the Court,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group, told HuffPost in a statement in May.
In his interview with CNN, Breyer said that his health was the most important factor to him in making a decision, followed by the court. He also expressed satisfaction with his newfound seniority in the court after the death of Ginsburg.
In private deliberations, the seniority “has made a difference to me. … It is not a fight. It is not sarcasm. It is deliberation,” he said.
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