Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a Staunch Liberal, to Retire

Michael Foust | Contributor | Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Stephen Breyer, Breyer announces his retirement from the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a Staunch Liberal, to Retire

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of the term, NBC News reported Wednesday, giving President Biden his first opportunity to place a nominee on the court even though it likely won't change its ideological balance.

Breyer, 83, is a member of the court's three-member liberal bloc and has been a stalwart supporter of legalized abortion and LGBT interests during his nearly three decades on the bench. He was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Breyer will formally announce his retirement on Thursday, according to media reports.

Biden's nominee will clear the Senate if all 50 members of the Democratic caucus vote together. Biden previously said he wanted to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.

"Let him make whatever statement he's going to make, and I'll be happy to talk about it later," Biden said Wednesday.

"It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today," said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. "We have no additional details or information to share from @WhiteHouse."

For months, liberal activists have encouraged Breyer to retire, fearful that Republicans would block a nomination in 2023 or 2024 if they take control of the Senate this year. Similar calls to liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg went unheeded during the two terms of President Barack Obama. Ginsburg then passed away during the final months of the Trump presidency, giving Republicans a rare opportunity to replace a liberal with a conservative.

The conservative bloc outnumbers the liberal bloc, 6-3.

Hearings on Breyer's replacement could begin even before he officially leaves the court. CNN's Maju Raju reported that Democrats "expect to hold hearings and votes before Breyer officially steps aside at the end of his term."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.