Associate Justice Stephen Breyer is still undecided about when he will be retiring from the Supreme Court. He stated this in an interview with CNN.
The two factors that would impact his retirement plans, Breyer said, are “primarily, of course, health,” and “second, the court.”
Breyer, who is the court’s oldest judge by almost a decade has been under pressure from some on the political left to resign and make room for a younger justice, who would be nominated and confirmed by the Senate by President Joe Biden.
The 82-year old Breyer, a nominee for President Bill Clinton in 1994, didn’t retire last month as the court’s current term was over. CNN reported that Breyer has enjoyed his position as the senior-most judge of the court’s liberal branch, which he took over after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Since 2016, Democrats have been troubled by the ideological tilt of the Supreme Court. In 2016, then-Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), refused to hold confirmation hearings to Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell claimed that the voters of that year should have the right to choose Scalia’s successor. This was a strategy that worked for Republicans, who were elected to the White House.
Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices during his four-year presidency, which boosted the court’s conservative advantage by boosting it from 5-4 to 3-3. Amy Coney Barrett was the last nominee of Trump and was confirmed in a hurry just days before Trump’s defeat.
McConnell, who helped Barrett’s confirmation pass in the weeks before a presidential election, despite his 2016 demand that voters weigh in, already indicated that he could block any Biden Supreme Court nominee if Republicans retake control of the Senate majority in the 2022 midterm elections. Liberals are concerned that Breyer’s delayed retirement could result in Breyer losing control of his replacement.
Breyer has maintained that judges should not be influenced by outside politics.
“They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment,” he said of federal judges during a Harvard law school lecture in April.