Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a former Democratic presidential candidate and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings on Supreme Court nominees, weighed in on the tenure of Justice Steven Breyer on Sunday, saying that if the associate justice plans to step down from the court for retirement, he should do it sooner rather than later.
During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Klobuchar was asked whether Breyer, who will be 83 next month, should retire while a Democrat is in the oval office, given that the justice says that he hasn’t made a decision on when he does plan to retire.
“Your fellow Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal says he’s very concerned about the liberal wing of the court being sustainable, so is Justice Breyer making a mistake by not retiring,” CNN host Dana Bash asked the Minnesota Democratic senator.
“I’m not going to speculate on his retirement,” Klobuchar responded. “But in your exclusive interview, from CNN, it was very clear that he said two reasons: One is health, that he’d look at, and two, the court. Well when you look at the court, he has to be concerned about the make-up, and you have to be concerned with how you get a justice on the court, with all of the manipulation that Mitch McConnell has engaged in.”
“So that would lead me to say, sooner rather than later,” Klobuchar added. “He makes his own decision about if he’s going to retire, but if he’s going to retire, it should be sooner rather than later if you are concerned about the court, because what happens in the U.S. Senate matters.”
Breyer, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, is one of three reliably liberal votes on the Supreme Court, and his retirement — should he choose to pursue it during the Biden administration — would allow the Democrats to avoid the possibility of yet another Republican president appointing the replacement for a liberal-leaning justice.
Demand Justice, a progressive group, has been building a pressure campaign to, in the words of the group’s leader, get liberal voters to realize the “importance of every single vacancy, and the need to start building a more enduring bloc on the court,” Newsmax reported in May.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who notably does not vote on appointees but has one of the largest public platforms on the progressive Left, said last week that she was “inclined to say yes” when asked whether Breyer should retire from the bench.
Notably, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused to step down while former President Obama was in office because, according to her daughter, she wanted 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to appoint her successor. But when Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump, Ginsburg could no longer step down without a Republican getting the chance to replace her. She died less than two months ahead of the presidential election.
And only days from the election, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to replace her.