U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is set to announce his retirement. After serving for 27 years, Breyer, 83, will step down from his lifetime position on the nation’s highest court at the end of the term in June.
Breyer, the Supreme Court’s oldest member, was appointed by President Bill Clinton. Considered a liberal justice, he has authored rulings “upholding abortion rights and healthcare access, helped advance LGBT rights and questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty,” Reuters reported.
Breyer’s almost three-decade career included the preservation of Obamacare, formally called the Affordable Care Act, three different times since 2010. He was part of the majority to rule in favor of the legalization of gay marriage. Breyer also authored two abortion rulings in 2016 and 2020 that “blocked restrictions on clinics in Texas and Louisiana,” Reuters reported.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said Biden “will honor his presidential election campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to fill any Supreme Court vacancy,” according to Reuters, but didn’t confirm Breyer’s retirement plans.
A press conference with Breyer and Biden is scheduled for today.
“We thank Justice Breyer for his decades of service on the Court and to the American public,” Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said. “His retirement and the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice comes at a critical moment for our country as we contend with a nationwide fight for civil rights, including protecting the fundamental right to vote.”
Senate Democrats plan to confirm Biden’s nominee as quickly as possible, according to a source that’s part of the planning process.
“Right now, we have an opportune moment to expand the racial and gender diversity of the court,” Hewitt said. “Once a nomination has been made, the Senate must take its constitutionally-mandated advice and consent role seriously, and carefully evaluate the nominee’s full record without engaging in partisan games. Any gamesmanship or efforts to obstruct this nomination for political gain must not be tolerated.”