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Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement would be a “great loss,” as liberal groups wage a campaign for the 82-year-old to resign and make way for a younger liberal to take the seat while Democrats control the White House.
Feinstein, California’s senior senator and the oldest sitting senator at 87, has faced her own calls within her own Democratic Party to retire and make way for a younger progressive.
“My general belief is, if a person is serving with integrity and working hard and producing for whatever the constituency is, that’s what these jobs are all about,” Feinstein told CNN Thursday.
Liberal group Demand Justice drove a truck around Capitol Hill last month airing the message “Breyer, retire.” The printed message also warned, “Don’t risk your legacy.”
Another side of the truck read, “It’s time for Black woman Supreme Court justice. There’s no time to waste.”
New York Democrat Rep. Mondaire Jones told Cheddar News last month there is “no question” Breyer should retire during Biden’s presidency. Others have called for his retirement even sooner, worried that Democrats may lose their narrow majority in the Senate come 2022.
Noting the untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg two months before the presidential election, Jones said: “My goodness, have we not learned our lesson?”
The White House has stayed out of the debate. “He believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s time to no longer serve on the Supreme Court,” press secretary Jen Psaki said of Biden’s position.
But Breyer may not be keen on a politically motivated retirement. Last month he spoke at Harvard Law School underscoring the importance of separation of powers and an apolitical court.
“If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, its confidence in the courts and in the rule of law can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power, including its power to act as a check on other branches,” he said. “My experience of more than 30 years… as a judge has shown me that once men and women take the judicial oath they take that oath to heart. They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment.”
He also spoke against court-packing, just as some Democrats have begun a campaign to add four new justices to the bench. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would not bring the court-packing legislation, introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Conn., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to a full House vote.
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