Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy shocked the legal world in 2011 when he called for the immediate retirement of two members of the liberal wing of the US Supreme Court: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
In an article for The New Republic, Kennedy said that it was “the thing responsible for them,” that the 1970s – nominated by Bill Clinton – should step aside so that then-Democratic President Barack Obama could nominate younger liberals to take their place. to seats for life in the nation’s highest court.
Nobody answers the call. Last year, Ginsburg Died She is 87 years old and Donald Trump took her seat just days before November presidential elections With Amy Connie Barrett, Libra heart Of the nine members seat 6-3 in favor of the Conservatives.
Now, with Democrats in the White House and control of the Senate at the lowest profit margins, Breyer, 82, faces new demands to step down after nearly 27 years in court.
As the Supreme Court nears the end of its term, it has been targeted by a fierce public pressure campaign posing political challenges to President Joe Biden as progressives fear the ruling of the conservative-dominated Supreme Court on everything from Voting rights And guns for affirmative action and miscarriage.
“We have seen the tragic consequences of rolling the dice, and it cannot be allowed to happen again,” said Trey Easton of the progressive Battle Born Collective. “The Republican Party does not claim that the Court is this apolitical institution, and the Left, the Progressives, the Democrats, cannot pretend that it is apolitical either.”
Those calls grew even louder this week after Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, suggested he would stand in the way of Biden’s nominee if his party takes the House in next year’s midterm elections. Supreme Court justices are chosen by the presidents but need to be approved by a simple majority in the Senate.
McConnell Famous refused to accept Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Governor Antonin Scalia in 2016, paving the way for Trump to pick Neil Gorsuch instead.
McConnell’s recent comments sparked outrage among progressives. “Anyone who still doubts Stephen Breyer not retiring could end in disaster should watch out for Mitch McConnell,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of the group Demanding Left Justice.
The Fallon Group led the Briar Writer campaign and launched a campaign Advertising campaign And she hired an advertising truck to ring the courthouse with the message: “Bryer, retire. It’s time for a black woman Supreme Court justice. There’s no time to waste.”
Some legal scholars, including UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who wrote in the Washington Post, joined in. editorial Last month, Breyer must “learn from Judge Ginsburg’s mistake” and now step down, warning: “With a 50-50 Senate, anything is possible.”
Biden has pledged to appoint the first black woman to court should a vacancy arise. Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is widely seen as one of the frontrunners, was confirmed by the Senate earlier this week to serve on the preeminent federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.
Breyer’s retirement may be one of Biden’s only opportunities to be appointed a Supreme Court justice in the near future, precluding any unexpected developments. Clarence Thomas, an avowed conservative appointed in 1991, is the second-oldest person on the bench—and ten years younger than Breyer.
Trump had a rare opportunity to fill three vacancies in his four-year term, following the deaths of Scalia and Ginsburg and the retirement of Anthony Kennedy. Like many Republican lawmakers, he campaigned on a promise to Provincial Court To attract grassroots Republican voters who have a strong sense of issues like guns and abortion.
Meanwhile, Biden has largely avoided getting directly into court-related cases, although earlier this year he formed a bipartisan committee. Consider repairsincluding the addition of more Supreme Court justices.
Asked in April what the president thought about calls for Breyer to step down, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that was the decision for justice to be made. This week, Biden said of McConnell’s veiled threat: “Mitch has been just a ‘no’ for a long time, and I’m sure he means exactly what he says. But we’ll see.”
Supreme Court justices are usually candid, and rarely give interviews or comment on cases. Breyer, a Harvard Law School graduate and former professor whose resume includes assignments to the US Department of Justice and the US Court of First Appeals, said little about his plans.
He made headlines earlier this year when he gave a Harvard lecture “The Power of the Court and the Peril of Politics,” rejecting calls to “populate” the court with additional judges, and defending the institution’s independence from White. House of Representatives and Congress.
“If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, their confidence in the courts — and in the rule of law itself — can only dwindle, reducing the court’s power, including its power to act as an officer over other branches,” Breyer said.
Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University School of Law, said the letter suggested that Breyer might not deal kindly with the political campaign that called for his departure.
“There is no doubt about Breyer’s continued acumen or intellectual abilities, so the question is whether he feels he needs to leave court,” Turley said. “Judge Breyer may conclude that it is more detrimental to the Court as an institution for him to submit to this kind of campaign than it is to remain in the Court.”