Justice Stephen Breyer, who for years was one of the more obscure, lesser-known justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, has emerged this year as nothing less than a liberal power player, especially in the face of a growing pressure campaign initiated by Democrats who want him to retire.
Many Democrats are hoping Breyer will soon throw in the towel so that he can be replaced with a younger liberal justice while there’s still time but it appears as if Breyer has answered his critics by not only shrugging off the retirement demands but also by hiring a full slate of law clerks for the next SCOTUS term, as Bloomberg reported.
The 82-year-old justice doesn’t appear to have any interest in hanging up his robe at this point, especially after the death of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at which point he became the most senior face of the liberal side of the high court.
Breyer has been at the forefront of the fight to keep politics out of the Supreme Court, arguing in April that politicizing the high court only leads to a decline in public trust.
“If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, its confidence in the courts and in the rule of law itself can only diminish,” Breyer said in April.
Liberal activists, along with a number of high-profile politicians, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have pushed for Breyer to retire given that there might exist a limited window of opportunity for President Joe Biden to appoint a successor before Republicans have a chance to take majority control of the Senate.
Many of those same activists hired a billboard truck to circle Capitol Hill recently with signs that read, “Breyer, retire. It’s time for a black woman Supreme Court justice,” making clear that not only do they want the seasoned justice to step aside, they prefer he be replaced by a woman of color, as promised by then-candidate Biden prior to the 2020 election.
In March, Breyer told Axios that he doesn’t think about retiring, adding, “I enjoy what I’m doing.”
From what it looks like, Breyer plans on sticking around, no matter how much pressure he faces. Also, it’s not out of the question to presume that he’s remaining on the high court’s bench to solidify his point that politics has no place in the halls of the Supreme Court.