Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, with 28 distinguished years on the Supreme Court, announced today in a meeting with President Joe Biden, that he will retire at the end of the Supreme Court term in late June.
Breyer is a very distinguished jurist, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994, and adding stature and common decency to the Court in the past three decades.
However, Breyer will be 84 this August, and clearly, to insure a Biden appointment to the Court, because of the possibility of a Republican controlled Senate in 2023, it was urgent for him to leave the Court now.
Breyer will be the 22nd longest serving Justice when he leaves the Court, out of a total of 115 Justices in the Supreme Court’s history, so will be in the top 20 percent of all time service.
Biden will appoint an African American woman to be the first on the Supreme Court, a pledge he made when he was running for President, just as Ronald Reagan pledged to pick the first woman for the Court, who turned out to be Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981.
Diversity on the Supreme Court is essential, and will bring youth to the Court, even though the balance of power is still with conservative Republicans with their 6-3 advantage.
It is, however, a moment to celebrate Stephen Breyer, and celebrate another barrier to advancement in the judicial branch, long overdue!