Stephen Breyer’s retirement brings end to Bill Clinton’s influence on high court

The impending retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer from the U.S. Supreme Court marks not just the end of an era in terms of his professional career, but it also brings down the curtain on the influence former President Bill Clinton had in shaping the composition of the panel, as Fox News notes.

During his two terms in office Clinton successfully placed two jurists on the high court, namely, reliable liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Breyer the following year.

At the time of Breyer’s nomination, Clinton described him as an “unquestioned leader of the judiciary,” and assured the country that he would “bring to the Court a well recognized and impressive ability to build bridges in pursuit of fairness and justice.”

As Fox News points out, if Hillary Clinton had successfully campaigned for the presidency in 2016 and 2020, she would have been able to exert a startling influence on the future of the high court, given the four court vacancies that have arisen thus far during the time period those terms have covered.

However, political realities intervened, facilitating former President Trump’s three successful nominations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, much to the consternation of Democrats everywhere.

Though it appears that the era of a Supreme Court that bears the Clinton stamp is at an end, the former president’s reach can still be seen through the presence of sitting Justices Sonia Sotomayor, whom Clinton tapped for a federal Court of Appeals seat in 1997 and Elena Kagan, who worked as an associate White House counsel during his administration.

It is certainly true that Clinton’s Supreme Court picks ultimately proved to be squarely on the side of the panel’s liberal wing, with Ginsburg representing an almost guaranteed vote in sync with leftist priorities, considering how current President Joe Biden is approaching the nomination process, some may find themselves waxing almost nostalgic the 1990s.

As news broke of Breyer’s imminent retirement last week, Biden reiterated his intention of fulfilling a campaign pledge to consider only Black females for any Supreme Court vacancy occurring during his tenure, and it appears that his short list of possible candidates includes a number of radical progressives that may make Clinton’s choice of Ginsburg look downright conservative by comparison.

It is certainly true that as president, Biden has the right and privilege to nominate whomever he wishes to the high court. However, as Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz opined on Thursday, “for the president…to set up a quota system” by suggesting that nobody but Black women need apply for one of the country’s most important federal jobs “is just un-American.”