Supreme Court. Providing Biden a chance to make good on a campaign pledge

President Biden will be soon be able to nominate a Justice for the US Supreme Court with the imminent retirement of San Francisco native and Lowell High School graduate Stephen Breyer.

Expect another ferocious brawl as the Republicans, who already have cemented their majority on the nation’s highest Court, will trot out every incendiary argument to stop Biden’s eventual nominee from being confirmed.

Excerpted from Wikipedia 1.26.2022

Breyer was born on August 15, 1938, in San FranciscoCalifornia,[4] to Anne A. (née Roberts) and Irving Gerald Breyer.[5] Breyer’s paternal great-grandfather emigrated from Romania to the United States, settling in Cleveland, where Breyer’s grandfather was born.[6] Breyer was raised in a middle-class Jewish family. His father was a lawyer who served as legal counsel to the San Francisco Board of Education.[7] Breyer and his younger brother Charles R. Breyer, who later became a federal district judge, were active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved the Eagle Scout rank.[8][9] Breyer attended Lowell High School, graduating in 1955. At Lowell, he was a member of the Lowell Forensic Society and debated regularly in high school tournaments, including against future California governor Jerry Brown and future Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe.[10]

After high school, Breyer studied philosophy at Stanford University. He graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.[11] He was then awarded a Marshall Scholarship which he used to study philosophy, politics, and economics at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving a second B.A. in 1961.[12] He then returned to the United States to attend Harvard Law School, where he was a member of the Harvard Law Review and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Laws degree magna cum laude.[13]

In 1967, Breyer married Joanna Freda Hare, a psychologist and member of the British aristocracy, the youngest daughter of John Hare, 1st Viscount Blakenham. They have three adult children: Chloe, an Episcopal priest and author of The Close; Nell; and Michael.[15]

Breaking News 4.15.2019

Excerpted from The New York Times 1.26.2022

WASHINGTON — Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the senior member of the Supreme Court’s three-member liberal wing, will retire, two people familiar with the decision said, providing President Biden a chance to make good on his campaign pledge to name a Black woman to the court.

“This is a huge step in preserving his legacy in a way that Justice Ginsburg failed to do,” said Leah Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan. “He saw what happened to his friend, to her jurisprudence and all the things that mattered to her when she didn’t step down while she was able to. It is a credit to him that he made this decision even though he’s doing a job that he obviously very much loves.”

Mr. Biden is expected to formally announce the retirement at the White House on Thursday, according to one person familiar with the planning for the event.

Justice Breyer, 83, the oldest member of the court, was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020 and the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett by President Donald J. Trump, he became the subject of an energetic campaign by liberals who wanted him to step down to ensure that Mr. Biden could name his successor while Democrats control the Senate.

Breyer III 1.26.2022
The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer

With conservatives now in full control of the court, replacing Justice Breyer with another liberal would not change its ideological balance or affect its rightward trajectory in cases on abortion, gun rights, religion and affirmative action.

But Democrats, who control the Senate now by the narrowest of margins, may have to act quickly if they want to ensure that the court does not become even more conservative. If they lose even a single seat in the midterm elections, the balance of power in the chamber would flip, making it much more difficult for Mr. Biden to win confirmation for his nominee.

Justice Breyer’s opinions have been those of a moderate liberal, marked by deference to experts, the ad hoc balancing of competing interests and alertness to fundamental fairness. His goal, he said, was to reinforce democracy and to supply workable legal principles for a sprawling and diverse nation.

Breyer I 1.26.2022.jpg

He has been more likely to vote against criminal defendants than other liberal justices. On the other hand, as the years progressed, he has grown increasingly hostile to the death penalty.

He played a starring role in the court’s last term, writing majority opinions rejecting a challenge to the Affordable Care Act and protecting the free speech rights of a high school student.