President Joe Biden and his aides are not going to push Associate Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from the Supreme Court, believing that to do so would politicize the institution.
There is not currently a vacancy on the Supreme Court but progressives have been pressuring Breyer to retire to ensure that the vacancy occurs while the Democrats are in control of the Senate. Breyer has not indicated that he will retire. However, if he did, the vacancy would allow President Biden to nominate someone younger and perhaps bring more diversity to the court even if a Democratic appointment does not affect the current 6-3 conservative majority.
Progressive activists have also cited fears of a Republican victory in next year’s midterm elections. Should Breyer, who turns 83 later this month, die or retire then, he would provide the GOP the opportunity to secure a 7-2 majority on the court.
Biden and his aides are not giving in to progressive demands, believing that pressuring Breyer to retire could backfire. They believe it could convince Breyer to remain in his position longer to prove he is unswayed by political interference.
Writing in a “Dear Colleague” letter last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made clear that Democrats are “ready to expeditiously fill” Supreme Court vacancies as Democrats also weigh a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution.
“Alongside these crucial legislative priorities, the Senate will continue to confirm more of President Biden’s highly qualified judicial nominees. … We will continue this critical work in the months to come. As always, Senate Democrats stand ready to expeditiously fill any potential vacancies on the Supreme Court should they arise,” Schumer wrote in the letter.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.