Important development for SCOTUS as Justice Stephen Breyer plans to step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, according to people familiar with his thinking. Breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices, and his decision to retire after more than 27 years on the court will give President Joe Biden the chance to appoint a successor who could serve for decades and, in the short term, at least maintain the current 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices. While Breyer himself has yet to announce his retirement, President Biden has said he will let him make that announcement before commenting further on the situation.
Breyer is the court’s oldest member at 83 years old. Many liberals have urged him for months to retire while Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate — a position that could change after the midterm elections in November. Many liberals contend that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stayed too long despite her history of health problems and should have stepped down during the Obama administration so that a liberal could replace her. Ginsburg’s death from cancer at 87 allowed then-President Donald Trump to appoint her successor, Amy Coney Barrett, moving the court further to the right. An appointment by Biden could keep Breyer’s seat on the liberal side of the court for a long time.