Justice Stephen Breyer has announced he is retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, according to multiple media reports.
Breyer is one of just three remaining liberal justices after President Donald Trump and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell remade the court over the last few years.
83-year-old Breyer has been on the court for 27 years after being nominated by former President Bill Clinton.
The retirement will now give Democrat President Joe Biden an opportunity to name Breyer’s SCOTUS replacement.
The move could possibly see Biden rid himself of the albatross that is Kamala Harris by nominating the vice president for the seat,
Harris is rumored to be on the shortlist for a replacement on the court along with Kantaji Brown Jackson and Leondra Kruger.
Biden promised to name an African American woman to the bench if he had the chance.
Democratic Party activists have been trying to get Breyer to step down for months.
CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said:
“Favorites: Kantaji Brown Jackson (D.C. Cir.), Leondra Kruger (Calif. Sup. Ct.). Longshot: VP Kamala Harris. Stay tuned to @CNN for news. #SCOTUS.”
BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, @NBCNews has learned.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 26, 2022
Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Breyer came to the Supreme Court in 1994 and became one of the court’s moderate-to-liberal members, though he often said it was misleading to label justices with such terms.
He believed that interpreting the Constitution should be based on practical considerations, changing with the times.
That put him at odds with conservative justices who said the court must be guided by the original intent of the founders.
“The reason that I do that is because law in general, I think, grows out of communities of people who have some problems they want to solve,” he said in an interview.
Breyer wrote the court’s opinion striking down a state law that banned some late-term abortions in 2000 and dissented seven years later, when the Supreme Court upheld a similar federal law passed by Congress.
He supported affirmative action and other civil rights measures. And in a widely noted dissent in 2015, he said the death penalty in America had become so arbitrary that it was probably unconstitutional.
JUST IN – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire (NBC) pic.twitter.com/jGKkRX0pl3
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) January 26, 2022