On Thursday, January 27, 2022, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer officially announced his retirement from the Supreme Court of The United States. Generally considered part of the liberal wing of the highest court in the land, progressives Democrats have pressed Justice Breyer to step down ever since Democrats gained control of the House, Senate, and White House. At 83 years old, he is currently the oldest and second longest-serving incumbent justice in the Supreme Court, on the bench since 1994. With age comes higher risk of injury, and many polls show that Republicans will regain control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections this November, which has caused many Democrats to fear a lifetime conservative appointment to the court.
As Democrats still have control over both houses of Congress, this resignation gives President Biden the opportunity to uphold his campaign promise of nominating America’s first Black female Supreme Court justice. After receiving a hand-written letter of retirement from Justice Breyer, the President released a statement in which he promised to pursue this record-setting nomination. Biden’s potential nominations include DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, and South Carolina US District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs.
Democrats fear that Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who have been reluctant to vote in favor of legislation that is in the interest of their own party, will oppose the nomination, but they have approved of the president’s nominees for lower courts in the past, and analysts do not predict any trouble for this circumstance.