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News of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s intention to retire comes after months of pressure from the left to hang up his robe in time for President Biden to name his replacement.
“There’s no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term,” Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., said last spring, just months after Biden took office. “My goodness, have we not learned our lesson?”
SUPREME COURT JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER TO RETIRE
The lesson Jones was hoping Breyer had learned from was the story of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who famously resisted calls to retire during former President Barack Obama’s tenure, opening the door for former President Donald Trump to choose her replacement upon her death in 2020.
Ginsburg’s death made Breyer the oldest member of the court at 83, a fact not lost on many progressives when Biden won the 2020 election.
“I believe Representative Jones has a point, and we have had very difficult experiences with making the opposite mistake,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said when asked last year about the prospect of Breyer retiring.
Asked specifically if she thought Breyer should step aside, Ocasio-Cortez said she was “inclined to say yes.”
Breyer also faced pressure from legal scholars, including a letter that was signed by 18 academics last year calling on him to step aside. Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, penned his own op-ed pleading for Breyer to announce his retirement.
“Breyer shouldn’t even wait for the 2022 midterms to retire,” Chemerinsky said last year in the Washington Post. “With a 50-50 Senate, anything is possible: Something could happen to a Democratic senator in a state with a Republican governor, who would then pick the replacement and throw the majority back to Republicans.”
Progressive activist organizations also joined in on the chorus, with 13 groups such as Black Lives Matter and Women’s March launching a joint effort calling for his retirement.
“Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer should immediately announce his intent to retire from the bench,” said an ad paid for by the groups. “If Breyer were replaced by an additional ultra-conservative justice, an even further-right Supreme Court would leave our democracy and the rights of marginalized communities at even greater risk.
“For the good of the country, now is the time to step aside,” the ad continued.
Breyer mostly stayed silent on his plans despite the immense pressure, saying that he would “eventually” step aside.
“I mean, eventually I’ll retire, sure I will,” Breyer told Slate last year. “And it’s hard to know exactly when.”
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Breyer had planned to announce his retirement soon and made the decision on his own, sources told Fox News’ Shannon Bream.