Stephen Breyer announces retirement from Supreme Court


AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

President Joe Biden listens as Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer announces his retirement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022.

Colin Moorhead II, Staff Reporter

After 28 years of service in the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen G. Breyer is retiring from the bench. Justice Breyer has had a prolific tenure with over 208 written opinions of the court and heard hundreds of cases that range from abortion, freedom of religion and environmental protections. Justice Breyer has announced he will step down from the bench at the end of the current term, which ends in June 2022. This now paves a path for President Joe Biden to make his own nomination to the United States Supreme Court. 

Breyer’s retirement is followed by months of hard pressure and calls for his retirement. At 83 years old, Breyer is the oldest of the Justices, and many worried that this would be the only time for the Democrat-controlled White House and Senate to approve a Justice. This push for him to retire derived primarily from the progressive groups of the Democratic party. Many feared a situation like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, where her death in office resulted in a Republican President and Senate to name her replacement. Many wanted Ginsburg to retire before the 2016 election, while President Obama had the ability to name a nominee for the court. However, with the upset of the 2016 election, Ginsburg was left to remain on the court and hold out till the next election, and passed before the voting started. This led to President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to rush Amy Coney Barrett and her nomination through before the 2020 election.  

Breyer’s brother, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, said Stephen felt, “that this was an opportunity for a Democratic president — and he was appointed by a Democratic president — to fill his position with someone who is like-minded.” Biden has announced that he will nominate a black woman, the first-ever nomination in Supreme Court history. Biden has also stated that he has not made his decision as of yet but will announce his nominee by the end of February. 

Elizabeth Stiles, professor of Political Science at John Carroll University, weighed in on the historical announcement from President Biden. Stiles thinks Biden will name a more moderate candidate, such as, “Ketanji Brown Jackson who was on Obama’s shortlist… [and] Leondra Kruger, who served as Deputy Solicitor General in Republican and Democratic administrations so maybe that means he’s leaning towards a moderate.” However, she said, “it’s like trying to read tea leaves, you just can’t tell.” Stiles also commented on how the process of nomination in the Senate might transpire. She said, “I wouldn’t expect Manchin or Sinema to object since they have supported his judicial picks. It’s also possible that the nominee could pick up a few Republican votes in support like Murkowski or Collins.” If events follow this view, then Biden should have no issue with his nomination process, however, it will be expected for the Republicans to stall until midterm elections. 

Colin Moorhead II is a junior from Wadsworth, Ohio and is a World News staff writer for The Carroll News. He can be reached through email at [email protected] or on Instagram @colinmoorhead2.