Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told CNN in an interview that there are only two factors that will dictate whether he retires — health and the court.
Justice Breyer, the oldest member of the Court, says that he feels no pressure and has no plans to step down.
The eighty-three-year-old is enjoying having seniority on the bench. Breyer took over as senior liberal judge on the court when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020.
“It has made a difference to me,” the Justice said. “It is not a fight. It is not sarcasm. It is deliberation.”
The call for Justice Breyer to retire rings loudly. President Joe Biden is looking to appoint a young liberal to the Court. Last December, the twenty-seven-year veteran talked to Dahlia Lithwick at Slate magazine about his career and life during the pandemic.
“[T]he Court changes very, very, very slowly over long periods of time. That’s what I think, because it’s the legal view and this sort of jurisprudential view…,” Justice Breyer said.
When Lithwick asked Breyer directly, he said that he doesn’t know exactly when he would retire.
“Well, I can’t answer this question because it is too close to something that is politically controversial. I mean, eventually I’ll retire, sure I will. And it’s hard to know exactly when.”
During a two-hour speech at Harvard Law School in April, Justice Breyer spoke out about “court packing.” The Justice said that the court’s authority depends on “a trust that the Court is guided by legal principle, not politics.”
“If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, its confidence in the Courts – and in the rule of law itself – can only diminish, diminishing the Court’s power, including its power to act as a check on other branches,” Justice Breyer said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if the Republicans win back the chamber, he will not allow a vote on a Supreme Court nominee from President Biden.
“I don’t think either party, if controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,” McConnell told talk radio host Hugh Hewitt during an interview in June. “What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the President.”
McConnell also praised Justice Breyer for his stance on court packing.
“I do want to give him a shout-out, though, because he joined what Justice Ginsburg said in 2019 that nine is the right number for the Supreme Court,” McConnell said. “And I admire him for that. I think even the liberal Justices on the Supreme Court have made it clear that court packing is a terrible idea.”
President Biden has pledged to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, should a vacancy arise during his presidency.