Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer upset some progressives recently when he condemned the idea of packing the court.
Now, critics on the left are increasing their calls for the 82-year-old justice to retire from the bench.
“Think long and hard”
Breyer, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, is the seniormost liberal currently serving on the nation’s highest court. His recent remarks in opposition to the idea of adding new seats in the interest of increasing the court’s progressive influence, however, have attracted some pointed criticism.
A number of prominent Democrats have flirted with the idea of so-called court-packing in recent months, particularly since former President Donald Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her death.
In recent remarks on the topic, Breyer warned Democrats to “think long and hard” about the consequences of such an action. His comments appear to make the dream of packing the Supreme Court even more unlikely.
Of course, his critics on the left have another clear reason to want Breyer to step down and enjoy his retirement.
Ginsburg had an opportunity to retire during the Obama administration and ensure a like-minded replacement. Instead, she opted to stay on the court, giving a Republican president the chance to pick her successor.
“We can’t afford to risk”
Democrats fear that Breyer could repeat that perceived mistake. If he chooses to serve out his lifetime appointment, a future GOP president could name his replacement.
As a result, left-wing activist groups like Demand Justice have made their preferences clear.
“We can’t afford to risk Democrats losing control of the Senate before President Biden can follow through on his promise to nominate the first Black woman Supreme Court justice,” the group declared. “It’s time for Justice Breyer to announce his retirement.”
With Democrats facing a real possibility of losing control of the Senate after next year’s midterm elections, Biden could find himself either unable to replace Breyer altogether or at least forced to choose a more moderate nominee than his party’s progressive wing would prefer.
For his part, Biden vowed to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. With a reported shortage of viable candidates and Breyer’s reluctance to entertain the idea of retirement, however, the president might not have an opportunity to fulfill that promise.
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