Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of the high court’s current term — setting the stage for President Biden to replace him with another liberal jurist, according to reports Wednesday.
Breyer, 83, is the oldest judge on the Supreme Court and has been under increasing pressure from liberal Democrats to step down in recent months.
Biden said during his presidential campaign that he would nominate a black woman if he got the chance.
“I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we in fact get every representation,” he said on Feb. 25, 2020.
Breyer’s departure, expected over the summer, won’t change the 6-3 conservative advantage on the court because his replacement will be nominated by Biden and almost certainly confirmed by a Senate where Democrats have the slimmest majority. It also makes conservative Justice Clarence Thomas the oldest member of the court at 73.
Among the names being circulated as potential nominees are California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, US Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill and US District Judge Michelle Childs, whom Biden has nominated to be an appeals court judge.
Childs is a favorite of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who made a crucial endorsement of Biden just before South Carolina’s presidential primary in 2020.
Breyer was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton and has served there since 1994.
Before that, his time working in the Senate led to his appointment by President Jimmy Carter as a federal appeals court judge in Boston, and he was confirmed with bipartisan support even after Carter’s defeat for re-election in 1980.
Breyer served for 14 years on the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals before moving up to the Supreme Court. His 87-9 high court confirmation was the last with fewer than 10 dissenting votes.
With Post wires