Breyer to Retire at the End of Term

On Wednesday, the news broke that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of this year's term. The National Review reported:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire at the end of the Court’s current term after serving for 27 years, providing President Biden his first opportunity to appoint a justice to the High Court.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, Breyer is joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan on the bench’s minority liberal wing. His retirement was first reported by NBC’s Pete Williams.

Despite indications that an announcement was coming soon, Fox News' Shannon Bream reported that Wednesday's news was prematurely released.

The Left has been pressuring Breyer to retire since President Biden took office last year.

While Justice Breyer has said his decision to retire would not be political, there's no doubt that there was a political element to his decision which was made prior to the end of the Court's term. The article continued that Justice Breyer's retirement provides an opportunity for President Biden to nominate and the Senate to confirm a liberal justice before the 2022 midterm elections where there is a sizable chance that Democrats will lose the majority:

At 83, Breyer is the oldest justice on the court and has been pressured by Democrats and progressive groups to step down to allow Biden to install a replacement while his party maintains a narrow majority in the Senate, which must confirm his successor. The Senate can conduct the confirmation process prior to Breyer’s retirement at the end of the term. Majority Leader Schumer intends to take advantage of that option by holding confirmation votes before Breyer officially steps down, sources told CNN.

As Ed Whelan points out, this is the fifth straight time a Democrat president has been given the advantage of an early announcement of intention to retire by a Supreme Court justice.

While an announcement on a nominee to replace Justice Breyer likely won't come from the White House for a couple of weeks, President Biden indicated in the past that he would nominate a Black woman to the Court. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki reiterated this during a press conference on Wednesday.

The two most likely candidates are D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

If President Biden nominates someone in the mold of Justice Breyer, it is likely that the Senate will confirm the nominee after an extensive vetting process. However, if he nominates someone who is seen as unqualified or a more political choice, like Vice President Harris, there may be a true battle in the Senate.

RNLA will be monitoring this issue closely in the coming weeks and months.