Stephen Breyer, 83, to retire from SCOTUS after 27 years

Stephen Breyer, 83, to retire from SCOTUS after 27 years
Stephen Breyer, 83, to retire from SCOTUS after 27 years

Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

The current court term will end in June or early July. 

Breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices and has been under pressure to step down in order to let President Joe Biden appoint his replacement.

Liberal activists fretted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stayed on the Supreme Court too long despite her history of health problems and should have stepped down during the Obama administration. Instead, when she died in 2020, President Donald Trump appointed a conservative, Amy Coney Barrett, to fill her seat, moving the court further to the right.

Breyer's decision to retire after more than 27 years on the court allows Biden to appoint a successor who could serve for several decades. Biden's appointee should maintain the current 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices on the high court.

Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term

Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term

Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in April 2021

Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in April 2021

Senate confirmation process for new Justice 

After President Joe Biden names his pick for the Supreme Court, his nominee must be Senate confirmed.

Democrats hold the advantage given their control of 50-50 split chamber. 

The first step in the process is for the nominee to make visits to senators' office. Then the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings.

The entire Senate would then vote for or against the nominee's confirmation.

Democrats will be expected to toe the line and support Biden's pick, even rogue Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would be expected to be 'yes' votes. 

If all Republican senators oppose the nominee, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.

And Republicans won't be able to filibuster the nominee thanks to their own actions. 

In April 2017, then-Senate leader Mitch McConnell ended the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees, letting them advance to a final vote on a simple majority. He did it to help the confirmation of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

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At 83, Breyer is the court's oldest member. He was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to the high court.

The White House didn't immediately comment on the report.

'It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today. We have no additional details or information to share from @WhiteHouse,' press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted. 

Biden is expected to act quickly to nominate a successor who can be ready to serve when the court's new term begins Oct. 3. 

The president is a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so he knows how

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