WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — Justice Stephen Breyer will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, giving President Joe Biden a critical moment to name a nominee to the highest court in the land.
Breyer, 83, is the oldest member of the court and was nominated by former President Bill Clinton back in 1994. His expected departure gives Biden the opportunity to fulfill a campaign promise of naming a Black woman to the court.
Breyer is of three remaining liberal justices and if confirmed, Biden’s nomination would allow the court to remain 6-3 in favor of the conservatives. Biden was asked about Breyer’s possible retirement but declined to comment.
“Let him make whatever statement he’s going to make and I’ll be happy to talk about it later,” he said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement and stayed on message about not discussing any replacement for Breyer until he announces his decision.
“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,” she said.
Ketanji Brown Jackson seems to be the most likely to be picked by Biden to fill the vacant seat. Last year, he elevated her to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the highest and one of the most important federal panels. She was confirmed by the Senate in mid-June on a 53-44 vote.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) issued a statement after the news of Breyer’s impending retirement made the rounds. She called on Biden to uphold his campaign promise to fill the seat with a Black woman.
“The court should reflect the diversity of our country, and it is unacceptable that we have never in our nation’s history had a Black woman sit on the Supreme Court of the United States — I want to change that,” she said.
One of the other names in consideration is Leondra Kruger, a justice on California’s Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hinted he will want the process to move swiftly, saying Biden’s nominee will “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.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement of his own, saying if Democrats “hang together” they will be able to replace Breyer without needing a single vote from a Republican. Graham voted for Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
“Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court,” Graham said in a statement.
Democrats can confirm Breyer’s successor with a simple majority in the 50-50 split Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
Biden is expected to work quickly to name a successor with the court’s new term beginning October 3 and the midterm elections around the corner in November.