Donald Trump

Biden Praises Supreme Court's Stephen Breyer After Justice Confirms Retirement

Joshua Roberts | Reuters
  • President Joe Biden on Thursday praised Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in a speech on his decision to step down after more than 27 years on the high court.
  • In a letter to Biden that the high court released shortly before the president's speech, Breyer for the first time officially confirmed his retirement.
  • Breyer is one of three liberals on the 6-3 conservative majority court, which includes three members nominated by former President Donald Trump.
  • His retirement gives Biden a chance to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the bench.

President Joe Biden on Thursday praised Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer during remarks at the White House after his decision to step down after more than 27 years on the high court.

"His brilliance, his values, and his scholarship are why Judge Breyer became Justice Breyer," Biden said at the White House, with Breyer himself looking on.

"I think he's a model public servant in a time of great division in this country," Biden said of the retiring justice.

In a letter to Biden that the high court released shortly before the president's speech, Breyer officially confirmed his retirement. News of his decision broke on Wednesday before the justice had made an announcement.

"I am writing to tell you that I have decided to retire from regular active judicial service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States," Breyer wrote.

The 83-year-old justice told Biden he expected to step down when the court begins its summer recess around late June, "assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

"I enormously appreciate the privilege of serving as part of the federal judicial system," Breyer wrote. "I have found the work challenging and meaningful."

"My relations with each of my colleagues have been warm and friendly. Throughout I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law," he wrote.

Breyer, currently the oldest member of the court, is one of three liberal justices on the nine-seat bench. The court's conservative majority, which includes three members nominated by former President Donald Trump, has shown a willingness to flex its power in a growing list of divisive cultural issues, including abortion, guns, religion and race.

Breyer's retirement at the end of the court's current term gives Democrats a crucial opportunity to replace one liberal justice with another before the midterm elections, when Republicans hope to regain the Senate majority.

It also gives Biden a chance to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the bench.

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