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Biden to speak about Supreme Court Justice Breyer’s retirement

Justice Stephen Breyer, a consistently liberal-leaning vote on the Supreme Court, is set to announce his retirement after serving nearly 28 years.

The announcement comes after Breyer repeatedly stated that he was undecided on his retirement plans as recently as last year.

Breyer, age 83, was nominated by former President Bill Clinton in 1994 and sworn in on Aug. 3 of that year.

With an unflappable belief in the US system of government and a pragmatic view of the law, he has served nearly three decades on the bench.

Breyer has sought to focus the law on how it could work for the average citizen. He was no firebrand and was quick to say that the Supreme Court couldn’t solve all of society’s problems. He often stressed that the court shouldn’t be seen as part of the political branches but recognized that certain opinions could be unpopular.

“It is wrong to think of the court as another political institution,” Breyer told an audience at Harvard Law School in 2021.”It is doubly wrong to think of its members as junior league politicians,” he said.

“If the public sees judges as ‘politicians in robes,'” he warned, “its confidence in the courts, and in the rule of law itself, can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power, including its power to act as a ‘check’ on the other branches.”

In April 2020, Breyer appeared in a public service announcement urging individuals to fill out their census questionnaires, emphasizing how vital the information will be as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic — a rare move for an active member of the Supreme Court.

Breyer is known for his support for a woman’s right to have a legal abortion, which became a point of controversy when he was given an award by Fordham University, a Jesuit school.

In 2015, in the case Glossip v. Gross, Breyer raised the question of whether the death penalty is unconstitutional in a 40-page minority dissenting opinion, which late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined. The judges voted 5-4 to uphold the use of a controversial drug for lethal injection in executions.

Early in his career, Breyer was law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg from 1964-1965.

Breyer was also special assistant to the assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice from 1965 to 1967.

Breyer was a former assistant prosecutor during the Watergate hearings in the 1970s.

A little over a decade before he was sworn in to the Supreme Court, Breyer served as chief counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1980 and served as a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from 1981 to 1990. Breyer served as the chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

On the campaign trail, President Biden vowed that if he were to get a vacancy he would fill it with a Black woman, which would represent a historic first for the high court. Potential candidates include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, who was confirmed last year to the powerful DC-based appellate court. She once served as a law clerk for Breyer and also worked as an assistant federal public defender and served on the US Sentencing Commission.

Breyer is expected to stay on until the end of the term and until a replacement is confirmed.

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