Washington, Jan 26 (EFE).- Progressive US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the nine members of the high court, intends to retire when the current judicial session concludes in July, US media reported Wednesday.
Breyer’s retirement would give President Joe Biden the chance to confirm a progressive magistrate to replace him on the high court, where conservatives currently have a 6-3 majority.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a Twitter post that the administration has no specific information on Breyer’s plans.
“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,” tweeted Psaki.
At age 83, Breyer is the oldest member of the Supreme Court, to which he was confirmed in 1994 in a Senate vote of 87-9 after being nominated by Democratic then-President Bill Clinton and, immediately, he became one of the court’s progressive, or liberal, voices.
Breyer had served for 14 years on the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals before being nominated for the Supreme Court, where he had clerked as a young lawyer for Justice Arthur Goldberg.
Before clerking for Goldberg, he had graduated from Harvard Law School with the highest honors, and after his stint as the justice’s law clerk he then worked in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice before dividing his time between being a Harvard law professor and a lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Known for his incisive questions during oral arguments, Breyer always held that the Constitution must be interpreted within the context of each era, a stance that on some occasions led to clashes with more conservative justices like Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.
One of the best-known court opinions written by Breyer concerns the right to abortion. In 2016, he undertook to write the ruling that overturned a Texas law and that had served to close half of the abortion clinics in that state.
On another occasion, in 2015, he distanced himself from the court majority and, in a separate opinion, wrote that the death penalty had been transformed into such an arbitrary sentence in the US that it was probably unconstitutional.
For months, progressive groups like Demand Justice have called on Breyer to retire so that Biden can nominate a substitute taking advantage of the Democratic Party’s slim majority in the Senate, which must confirm all Supreme Court justices.
Last year, members of Demand Justice drove a truck through the streets of Washington near the high court building displaying a big sign that read: “Breyer Retire. It’s time for a Black woman Supreme Court justice.”
During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised that if he had the chance he would nominate an African American woman to the top US court.