Progressive Justice Stephen Breyer will retire from the United States Supreme Court at the end of the current term, which runs until the end of June, as reported by various US media on Wednesday. Breyer’s retirement would give Joe Biden a chance to confirm a progressive justice to the Supreme Court, where conservatives currently hold a majority.
Breyer is the longest serving member of the court following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September 2020 at age 87. Appointed by Clinton in 1999, only conservative Clarence Thomas – one of only two African-American men to serve on the Supreme Court – has served longer among the current justices, since 1991. Known for his pointed questions during oral arguments, Breyer has always He defended that the Constitution must be interpreted within the context of each era, which on some occasions earned him clashes with more conservative judges such as Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.
One of the best-known sentences that Breyer wrote has to do with the right to abortion. In 2016, the judge was in charge of writing the ruling that overturned a Texas law and that had served to close half of the abortion clinics in that state. And in 2015, he distanced himself from the majority of the members of the Supreme Court and considered that the death penalty had become such an arbitrary sentence in the United States that it was probably unconstitutional.
With conservatives now in full control of the court, replacing Breyer with another progressive would not change his ideological balance or affect his right-wing drift in cases on abortion, gun rights or religion.
Biden, during the 2020 presidential election campaign, promised to nominate an African-American woman to fill any vacancy on the Court, which would be a historic event. For months, progressive groups such as Demand Justice had been asking Breyer to retire so that Biden could nominate a substitute, taking advantage of the fact that the Democratic Party dominates the Senate, which according to the country’s Constitution must confirm candidates for the Supreme Court. However, most of them are scarce. If they lose a single seat in the midterm elections, the balance of power in the chamber would shift, making it much more difficult for Biden to confirm his candidate.
Potential Biden candidates include Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former Breyer paralegal who was confirmed by the Senate last June to serve on an influential appellate court, and Leondra Kruger, who sits on the California Supreme Court. . The name of District Judge J Michelle Childs, a favorite of Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, who gave crucial support to Biden during the Democratic primary in 2020, also sounds.