News and Commentary

Will Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, Step Down During Biden’s Run In White House?
Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the formal group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, April 23, 2021. Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation by the Senate last year was a touchstone accomplishment for Donald Trump and congressional Republicans that solidified a 6-3 conservative majority on the court just eight days before the U.S. held its presidential election. Photographer:
Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Election Day 2024, President Joe Biden will be nearly 82 years old (81 years 11 months 16 days old to be exact).

Before the 2020 campaign, Biden said he’d likely serve just one term (but after he was elected, he was less emphatic about his pledge). Still, the odds of the octogenarian running for a second term are, as boxer Muhammed Ali once said, slim and none — and slim just left town.

That means two things: Either Vice President Kamala Harris, 56, inherits the Democratic nomination, or the whole thing is thrown into chaos (remember that more than two dozen Democrats threw their hats into the ring last time around).

Liberals are nervous — so nervous that they’ve begun calling for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, to step down soon so Biden can appoint a replacement. Breyer was appointed to the high court by President Bill Clinton.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday she is leaning toward urging Breyer to retire so that Biden could appoint a younger liberal to the Supreme Court. “You know, it’s something I think about, but I would probably lean towards yes,” she said on CNN. “I would give more thought to it, but I’m inclined to say yes.”

Other liberals were less equivocal. Charlotte Clymer, a liberal activist, took to Twitter to write: “Breyer needs to retire. Greatness in public service has to also mean knowing when it’s time to pass the baton, and it’s time.”

And Robert Cruickshank, the campaign director at Demand Progress, tweeted: “If Breyer refuses to retire, he’s not making some noble statement about the judiciary. He is saying he wants Mitch McConnell to hand-pick his replacement.”

Last month, Demand Justice began driving a truck-mounted electronic billboard around Capitol Hill and using social media to deliver the message to Breyer. Some fear a repeat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, 2020, allowing President Donald Trump to fill her seat and give Republican-nominated justices a 6-3 edge on the high court.

“It’s about reminding people that the Supreme Court is an inherently political institution. And in this moment, when we have a 50-50 Senate, part of this is about preserving Justice Breyer’s legacy and making sure that he’s succeeded by a like-minded justice,” Christopher Kang, the group’s co-founder and an Obama White House veteran, said, according to Newsmax.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday threw fuel on the fire when he said a GOP-controlled Senate would block a Biden nominee in 2024 — but right now, Harris is the tie-breaking vote in the chamber, split 50-50.

Juan Williams, a liberal journalist who appears often on Fox News, joined the cause, penning a column headlined, “Time for Justice Breyer to go.”

“The realistic fight is to keep the current imbalance on the court from getting worse,” Williams wrote. He continued:

That begins with nudging Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the three remaining Democratic nominees on the court, to retire now. Breyer is 82 years old. If he leaves the court now, he will be replaced by a Biden nominee who would likely be confirmed with the votes of 50 Democrats in the Senate aided by the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Harris.

Justices Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both nominated by Democrats, were both replaced by Republican nominees because they chose not to pay attention to the threat of a politicized court.

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