WASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) – Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring, allowing President Joe Biden an opportunity he has pledged to fill by naming the first black woman on the planet. supreme court, two sources told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
The 83-year-old San Francisco native has been a pragmatic force on a court that has become increasingly conservative in recent years, trying to forge a majority with more moderate judges on the right and left of center .
The sources remain anonymous so as not to block Breyer’s final announcement in advance. NBC first reported the plan of justice.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House would have no further information regarding Breyer’s retirement.
“It was always the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decided to retire, and how they wanted to announce that, and that is still the case today.” she tweeted.
Breyer has been a justice since 1994, appointed by President Bill Clinton. Along with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Breyer chose not to resign the last time Democrats controlled the White House and Senate during Barack Obama’s presidency. Ginsburg died in September 2020, and then-President Donald Trump filled the vacancy with a conservative jurist, Amy Coney Barrett.
Breyer’s departure, expected in the summer, will not change the conservative 6-3 advantage on the court as his replacement will be nominated by Biden and almost certainly confirmed by the Senate where Democrats have the thinnest majority. It also makes Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas the oldest member of the court at 73.
Among the names being nominated are California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, US Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, prominent civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill and US District Judge Michelle Childs, who was nominated by Biden. nominate an appellate court. Childs is a favorite of Rep. James Clyburn, DS.C., who gave a key endorsement to Biden shortly before South Carolina’s presidential election in 2020.
Often overshadowed by his liberal Ginsburg colleague, Breyer delivered two main opinions in favor of abortion rights in a closely divided court on the issue, and he expressed difficulty His growing subject to the death penalty has been in a flurry of dissenting opinions in recent years.
Breyer’s view of displaying the Ten Commandments on government property exemplifies his search for a middle ground. He was the only member of the court to hold a majority in twin cases in 2005 banning the display of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courts, but allowing one to remain on the grounds of the state capitol in Austin. , Texas.
During his more than 27 years in court, Breyer was an energetic and fun questioner in debates, a frequent public speaker and nimble with a joke, often at his own expense. He made a kind appearance on a National Public Radio comedy show in 2007, failing to answer puzzling questions about pop stars.
He was known for his complicated, sometimes far-fetched, hypothetical questions for lawyers during arguments and at times he had the air of an absent-minded professor. In fact, he taught antitrust law at Harvard earlier in his professional career.
He also spent time working for the late Senator Edward Kennedy when the Massachusetts Democrat was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That experience, Breyer said, made him a firm believer in compromise.
Still, he was able to write down sharp disagreements, as he did in the Bush v Gore case, effectively deciding the 2000 election in favor of Republican George W. Bush. Breyer unsuccessfully urged his colleagues to return the case to the Florida courts so they could create “a constitutionally appropriate contest” to decide the winner.
And at the end of a challenging semester in June 2007 in which he found himself losing about two dozen 5-4 rulings, Breyer’s frustration flared as he summarized the dissent. from a decision that invalidated the public school integration plan.
Breyer said in a packed courtroom, a line of advertising was not in his view: “It is not often that very few people change so quickly.
His time in the Senate led to President Jimmy Carter’s appointment as a judge on the federal appeals court in Boston, and he was confirmed with bipartisan support even after Carter’s re-election defeat. elected in 1980. Breyer served 14 years on the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals before moving to the Supreme Court.
His 87-9 confirmation at the high court was the last with less than 10 votes in favor. Breyer’s comments are notable because they are never captioned. Breyer was warned of such a writing device by Arthur Goldberg, a Supreme Court justice, whom Breyer had secreted as a young lawyer.
Breyer once said, “An important point to make if you believe that, as I think, the main function of an opinion is to explain to the audience why the court made that decision. “It’s not to prove you’re right. You cannot prove that you are right; There is no such evidence. ”
Born August 15, 1938 in San Francisco, Irving, Breyer’s father was an attorney who served as legal counsel to the San Francisco Board of Education. Breyer graduated from the city’s Lowell High School in 1955 and went on to study linguistics at Stanford University, graduating with top honors and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
He attended Oxford, where he received first-class honors in philosophy, politics and economics.
Breyer then attended Harvard law school, where he worked on the Law Review and graduated with top honors.
Breyer’s first job after law school was as a law clerk for Goldberg. He later worked in the Justice Department’s antitrust division before dividing his time as a Harvard law professor and attorney for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Breyer and his wife, Joanna, a psychologist and daughter of the late British Conservative Party leader John Blakenham, have three children – daughters Chloe and Nell and a son, Michael – and six grandchildren.
His younger brother Charles is a senior judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, located at the Philip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco.
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2022/01/26/report-supreme-court-justice-stephen-breyer-to-retire/ Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer – CBS San Francisco