Calls grow louder for Stephen Breyer to retire after Mitch McConnell vow

Democrats and progressives stepped up their calls for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to step down Monday after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned he wouldn’t allow a vote on a possible Biden nominee if Republicans management the chamber in 2024.

“I don’t think either party, if it controlled [the Senate], if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election [year],” McConnell instructed radio host Hugh Hewitt.

The Kentuckian then raised the stakes by refusing to commit to giving a Biden nominee a vote in 2023 if Republicans retake the Senate in subsequent 12 months’s midterm elections, telling Hewitt, “We’d have to wait and see what happens.”

McConnell’s feedback led to outrage on social media, with Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), tweeting: “When I became the first person in Congress to call for Justice Breyer to retire now, while President Biden can still appoint a successor, some people asked whether it was necessary. Yes. Yes, it is.”

“Certainly feels good to yell online about this, but the only audience that really matters is Stephen Breyer, [Sen. Joe Manchin], [Sen. Kyrsten Sinema], and a handful of other Senate Dems who are hiding behind them,” added former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, referring to two Democratic senators who’ve spoken out towards eliminating the filibuster. “Anyone got a plan to persuade that crew?”

McConnell speaks during a news conference with fellow Republican senators in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2021.
McConnell speaks throughout a information convention with fellow Republican senators in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2021.
AFP by way of Getty Images

“Can someone show this to Stephen Breyer where he lives in outer space,” chimed in Favreau’s fellow former Obama speechwriter and podcasting colleague Jon Lovett.

“Justice Breyer is playing a reckless and irresponsible gamble with the future of hundreds of millions of people,” proclaimed commentator Matt Yglesias, whereas Mother Jones journal’s Washington bureau chief David Corn warned that “Justice Breyer ought to learn from the RBG and Garland precedents.”

McConnell famously refused to vote on Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland (now legal professional basic) to substitute Justice Antonin Scalia following the latter’s demise in 2016. Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to take Scalia’s place following Trump’s victory within the 2016 presidential election. In the autumn of 2020, McConnell helped shepherd Trump’s nomination of Amy Comey Barrett by the Senate within the weeks following the demise of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The 82-year-old Breyer, who was nominated to the excessive courtroom by Bill Clinton in 1994, is the oldest present justice and is recognized as a member of the courtroom’s liberal wing, together with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. With greater than 26 years of service on the Supreme Court, Breyer can also be the second-longest tenured present justice, trailing solely Clarence Thomas.

Breyer was already on progressives’ unhealthy facet after he spoke out in April towards increasing the Supreme Court, a follow generally known as “court-packing.”

In a digital lecture at Harvard Law School, Breyer warned that such a drastic motion would undermine “the trust that the court has gradually built.”

“I hope and expect that the court will retain its authority … which was hard won. But that authority, like the rule of law, depends on trust,” he mentioned. “A trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics. Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that latter perception, further eroding that trust.”

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