Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says he hasn't decided whether to retire

·Senior Writer
·2-min read

Facing pressure from some Democrats to step aside, the liberal Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer says he hasn’t decided on his retirement plans.

In an interview with CNN published Thursday, Breyer, who turns 83 next month, was asked whether he had decided when to step down.

“No,” he said.

Breyer said two factors would weigh heavily in his decision.

“Primarily, of course, health,” he said. “Second, the court.”

Justice Stephen Breyer poses for a group photo at the Supreme Court in April.
Justice Stephen Breyer at the Supreme Court in April. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)

Breyer, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994, became the longest-serving member of its liberal wing after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last fall.

Ginsburg, who resisted calls to retire when President Barack Obama was in office, died weeks before the 2020 presidential election. Then-President Donald Trump replaced her with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, shifting the court’s ideological balance to a 6-3 conservative majority on the nine-member bench.

Breyer told CNN he is enjoying his new role as the court’s leading liberal voice.

“[It] has made a difference to me,” he said.

From top left: Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, with, from lower left, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in April.
The Supreme Court justices in April. From left, top: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett; bottom: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)

There was some speculation that Breyer would announce his retirement last month, when the court's most recent term ended.

Liberal activists and some members of Congress have said they want Breyer to retire so that President Biden can appoint a younger liberal justice while Democrats have a majority in the Senate, which has the constitutional power to confirm justices.

Progressive lawmakers, including Reps. Mondaire Jones and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both Democrats from New York, have called for Breyer to step aside.

“There is no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term,” Jones said in April. “My goodness, have we not learned our lesson?”

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