Breyer weighs 'complex' factors in considering retirement

Justice Stephen Breyer remains steadfast against pressure from the Left to give up his seat on the Supreme Court , declining to offer a specific timeline for his retirement.

Breyer , 83 and the court’s most senior member, reiterated in a new interview that he doesn’t plan to die while sitting on the high court, but his time to retire is still under consideration.

“I’m only going to say that I’m not going to go beyond what I previously said on the subject, and that is that I do not believe I should stay on the Supreme Court, or want to stay on the Supreme Court, until I die,” Breyer told NPR’s Nina Totenberg in an interview clip published Thursday. “And when exactly I should retire, or will retire, has many complex parts to it. I think I’m aware of most of them, and I am, and will consider them.”


Liberal activists and even some in Congress have urged Breyer to hang up his robe sooner rather than later to ensure President Joe Biden can appoint a replacement.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, is among those who have publicly advocated Breyer’s swift retirement.

“Justice Breyer has been a great justice, and he recognizes, I am sure, the political reality of our having control of the Senate now. But elections always have risks, so, hopefully, he’s aware of that risk, and he sees it accordingly,” Blumenthal said in April.

Breyer, nominated by former President Bill Clinton and has served on the court since 1994, said last month he was sympathetic to something the late Justice Antonin Scalia, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan and a conservative on the court for nearly 30 years, once told him.

“He said, ‘I don’t want somebody appointed who will just reverse everything I’ve done for the last 25 years,’” Breyer told the New York Times in an August interview. “That will inevitably be in the psychology” of the decision of when to retire.

The sentiment behind Scalia’s words is the same driving call for Breyer to retire.


Still, he has repeatedly shrugged off those calls to retire immediately.

“There are many things that go into a retirement decision,” Breyer said in the same August interview, declining to offer when he will leave the court. “I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die — hope not.”

The current make-up of the court consists of six Republican-nominated justices, with three, including Breyer, who were appointed by Democrats. Judicial conservatives have a functional 6-3 majority on the bench.

The three most recently confirmed justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — were nominated by former President Donald Trump.