Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retires, avoids the mistake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Democrats finally got some good news on Wednesday, and it came from the most unlikely place: the Supreme Court.

Breyer’s swan song was a relief to many Democrats who felt the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had made a tragic mistake by refusing to retire.

After a year Democrats cursed the court where President Joe Biden’s Key Policy Priorities go to die, Justice Stephen Breyer surprised experts as well as lawmakers by announcing his imminent retirement from the federal bench. Breyer’s retirement gives Democrats the opportunity to turn their election year Supreme Court nomination into the golden political stage, just what Democrats desperately need after a year when Republicans and media focus on the party’s failures and mistakes. It also gives Biden the opportunity to make good on his pledge put the first black woman on the nation’s highest court.

Breyer’s swan song was a comfort to many Democrats who felt the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a tragic mistake by refusing to retire, despite multiple cancers. , during Barack Obama’s presidency when he could choose a like-minded successor.

“No fanfare or words can obscure the fact that, while Ginsburg is responsible for many landmark legal decisions, her legacy can be tarnished by a real thing. terrible: refused to retire when President Barack Obama could have appointed her replacement,” Stephanie Mencimer wrote for Mother Jones in 2018. Two years later, these Democrats’ fears will come true. Ginsburg died in September 2020, two months after Donald Trump lost the election in November.

Sensing Trump’s impending defeat, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., crashed through Ginsburg’s conservative successor, Amy Coney Barrett. Ginsburg’s gamble costs Democrats more money than a liberal seat on the court – legal scholars like Edward Larson argue Barrett’s 11-hour nomination and confirmation compromise the legitimacy of the court itself. That legitimacy crisis, which occurred when the courts lost ground to the public on other charges, hasn’t gone away: Just 40% of Americans approval of the Supreme Court – record low. Chief Justice John Roberts is still struggling with how to restore its broken reputation.

The Washington Post urges Breyer to “learn from Justice Ginsburg’s mistake“And clear the way for a successor while Democrats get a legislative majority to secure confirmation. To his credit, Breyer understands that serving another term could mean repeating Ginsburg’s grave mistake. With Republicans backing a recapture of the Senate this November, there are precious few months left when Democrats will have their hands free to fill Supreme Court vacancies.

Because Breyer announced his retirement with Democrats in control of the Senate, there would be no GOP-led obstruction to Biden’s pick, as happened with Obama. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s failed nomination went to court in 2016. Breyer’s retirement is also a great gift to Democrats who are still struggling to develop a unified midterm fundraising and advocacy message – and Breyer deserves some thanks. thanks from a party that often criticizes him unwilling to discuss his plans.

And it’s also a good time, as it follows recent frustrations from Democrats over child tax credits, voting rights and other priorities. A winning fight on the Supreme Court would be the impetus for Democrats eager to post high wins. Biden’s nominee will likely find her the subject of countless Democratic National Committee emails and Congressional fundraising emails rallying donors to protect the courts from corruption. further wear of the right wing. Her nomination would be a rare moment of party unity and an opportunity for Democrats to turn all their messaging weapons over to a Senate GOP opposed to giving Biden any political victory – let alone historic confirmation of the Supreme Court recognizing one of Biden’s heaviest commitments to Black voters.

But to get there, Democrats will need to find a candidate. One problem Biden faces is the relatively few Black women serving on the federal bench, the source of future Supreme Court justices, and many of them over the age of 60. That poses a challenge if Biden wants a candidate who ensures a lasting liberal presence against conservatives like Barrett, 49, and Brett Kavanaugh, 56. After facing the tension and calamity of Ginsburg’s death, Democrats want to avoid a similar crisis among the current liberal justices any time soon.

According to data tracked by the Federal Center for Justice, only five of the nearly 300 federal appellate judges are black women. No. 5! Among them are prominent legal minds such as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, who often finds himself on the Biden Supreme Court’s list of potential options. There are also California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, who is only 45 years old will have decades to build a strong presence on the court. Biden must have purpose in his search, but the White House must also acknowledge that time is of the essence and that every day spent in the search is a day lost to confirm the final nominee.

While the Senate will need to act quickly to hold hearings and begin the confirmation process, McConnell himself has laid out a roadmap to move Biden’s nominee forward in a matter of weeks. Barrett’s controversial nomination passed the Senate in only 27 days. MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Alene and other experts are pressured Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., to follow that active timeline. Having received so many punches in the face in past Supreme Court skirmishes, Democrats are in no mood to delay.

And Democrats’ efforts to confirm who is chosen will be fueled by a major change McConnell made to Senate rules: In 2017, Senate Republicans eliminated removed the Supreme Court nominees. The original intention was to clear the way for Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated on the right track to failure below the traditional 60-vote threshold. With just a bare majority needed to confirm the next Supreme Court member, Senate Democrats won’t be suspended by their two conservatives’ love of trash rule .

This moment would not have been possible without Breyer’s commendable decision to relinquish power. In doing so, he not only averted another crisis of stalemate between the Democratic president and the Republican Senate, but also allowed the Democrats to repair some of the damage to the court caused by Kavanaugh. scandalous nominations and McConnell’s scorched earth claim to Barrett. By looking at a candidate with a strong liberal stance, Democrats can wash away some of the stains currently plaguing the Roberts court.

On the surface, Breyer’s retirement doesn’t change the court’s partisan stance. Since President Bill Clinton Nominated Breyer in 1994, the free wing of the court only shrunk. But Breyer is a prime example of the pragmatism and clear thinking needed to bring our Supreme Court back to legitimacy. He deserves the thanks not only of the Democrats but also of anyone who has invested in the confidence of our highest legal authority. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retires, avoids the mistake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Jake Nichol

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