The Supreme Court’s oldest liberal justice, Stephen Breyer, has discussed his potential retirement plans amid growing calls for him to step aside while his replacement can be confirmed under a Democratic president.
Justice Breyer spoke to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and joked that one potential Supreme Court reform being considered by Democrats – on term limits – would make his considerations about retirement a lot easier.
He was asked by Mr Wallace about a number of potential reforms, including adding justices to the nine-member bench. While Justice Breyer was not in favor of the former he appeared open to considering term limits.
“I think you could do that. It should be a very long term because you don’t want the judge who’s holding that term to start thinking about his next job,” Mr Breyer said.
He then quipped: “But it would make life easier for me.”
The Fox anchor also asked Justice Breyer why he did not retire this year, ahead of the 2022 midterms, when Democrats risk losing control of the Senate. The decision by former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to not retire under former President Barack Obama has become a contentious point of debate on the left, as hers was one of three seats filled by former President Donald Trump during his four years in office.
That cementation of conservative power on the Court was felt in recent weeks when the Court declined to block Texas’s restrictive new abortion law from going into effect, by extension leading to the near-shutdown of abortion services statewide.
“I didn’t retire because I decided, on balance, I wouldn’t retire,” the judge replied. He said that the balance of the court was one of many factors playing in to his decision.
“There are many considerations. Many, many considerations,” he added.
Justice Breyer turned 83 last month, and is the oldest sitting justice on the Supreme Court by about 10 years.
He joined the Court in the Eighties after being nominated to the bench by former President Jimmy Carter.