Justice Breyer on calls for his retirement: ‘They are entitled to their opinion’

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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Sunday defended himself against progressives’ calls for him to step down while both a Democratic president and Democratic Senate are in power.

“I didn't retire because I had decided on balance I wouldn't retire,” Breyer said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

The 83-year-old justice echoed his previous statements on the subject, saying he doesn’t “intend to die on the court.” But he also wouldn’t say clearly what his plans for retirement are.

Breyer said there are “many considerations” and “many factors” to when he’ll step down, “and the role of the court and so forth is one of them.”

“I can't say I take anything perfectly into account, but in my own mind I think about those things,” said Breyer, who has been on the Supreme Court since 1994.

Democrats stepped up their calls for Breyer’s retirement in recent months, as a Democratic president would be able to nominate Breyer’s successor and a Democratic majority in the Senate would be there to confirm them. They fear that Republicans might win a Senate majority in November 2022.

In the first of many calls from progressives for his retirement, Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) said in April there’s “no question” that Breyer “should retire at the end of this term.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez echoed that sentiment in June, saying she was “inclined to say yes” as to whether Breyer should retire in the coming weeks.

Progressive activists and groups are wary of a repeat of the situation following Justice Antonin Scalia‘s death, when a Republican-led Senate declined to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia. They also have bitter memories of the situation after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, when former President Donald Trump quickly pushed through Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination — and the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed her just before the 2020 election.

But Breyer didn’t signal much concern at the push from progressives to step down.

“Well I think that they are entitled to their opinion. I think they — and not only they understand the political world much better than I, they understand it pretty well, and there we are, what else do you want me to say?” he said.

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