Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from Supreme Court

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 26, 2022

Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court's three liberal justices, will soon resign from the court, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Breyer's retirement paves the way for President Joe Biden's first nomination to the court.

At 83, Breyer is one of the oldest justices serving on the Supreme Court. He's the second-longest-serving justice currently on the bench, having been confirmed to the court in 1994 following a nomination by President Bill Clinton.

Justice Clarence Thomas (confirmed to the bench in 1991) is the only current justice who has served longer than Breyer.

According to The Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that whoever Biden chooses to nominate would “receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed.”

Many Democratic lawmakers have been pushing Breyer to retire now — while Democrats control the White House and the Senate — to ensure another liberal judge is added to the high court.

The White House on Wednesday denied pressuring Breyer to step down.

"It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today," White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted. "We have no additional details or information to share from @WhiteHouse."

The ideology of the court has swung to favor conservatives in recent years. President Donald Trump — buoyed by a Republican-led Senate's refusal to vote on President Barack Obama's nominee ahead of the 2016 election — nominated three conservative justices to the bench in his four years in office: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The additions of those justices gave conservatives a 6-3 advantage on the court.

Breyer's retirement comes as the Supreme Court weighs several landmark cases that concern abortion rights, voting rights and affirmative action in the college selection process.