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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Sets His Retirement Date After Landmark Abortion Decision

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The end of the career of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal member of the SCOTUS is coming to a close.

The 83-year-old Justice announced his retirement earlier this year after a pressure campaign by many Democrats to have him retire while he could be replaced by President Joe Biden and a Democrat Senate.

He penned a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday in which he officially set his retirement date as this Thursday.

“Dear Mr. President,” he said to begin his letter.

“This past January, |wrote to inform you of my intent to retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, upon the Court rising for its summer recess. You have nominated and the United States Senate has confirmed the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson to succeed me in the office, and | understand that she is prepared to take the prescribed oaths to begin her service as the 116th member of this Court,” the Justice said.

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“The Court has announced that tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m., it will hand down all remaining opinions ready during this Term. Accordingly, my retirement from active service under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 371(b) will be effective on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at noon,” he said.

“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law,” he said.

His announcement signals that the court, which still have some monumental decisions to announce, is ending its term on Thursday.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated by President Biden and approved by the Senate, will officially join the court for its new session beginning in October.

This past October, a group of activists heckled the justice as he was interviewed by CNN journalist Joan Biskupic, CNN reported.

The hecklers stood with signs that called on Justice Breyer to retire, prompting the CNN journalist to ask him about people who have called for him to retire.

“That’s their point of view. I’ve said pretty much what I’ve had to say. There are a lot of considerations and I don’t want to add to what I’ve had to say tonight,” the justice said.

“I’ve also said that I hope I don’t die on the Supreme Court, and there we are,” he said.

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The interview was a wide-ranging one, with Justice Breyer addressing what it was like to see his colleagues again now that they can see each other in person.

“I mean you can’t really see what the people look like, how are they reacting. You can’t pick up something that your colleague said so easily. What is this colleague — what does he or she think of what’s going on. And when you’re there in person it’s a more human thing,” he said. “And I’d say that’s what it was: a big improvement today.”

But he said one of the advantages of having the arguments virtually was that “since we knew we were each going to have a turn of two or three minutes … you focus on the question and you focus on the answer — and that’s helpful.”

He also said he was “glad” to see that Justice Clarence Thomas was the first to ask questions in both of the cases the court heard on Monday as he has traditionally not been one to ask questions during the cases.

“Personally, I’m very glad that he did ask questions and I imagine will continue to do so. And he’s had plenty of chances to do that — he doesn’t like to interrupt other people,” he said of the conservative justice.

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