Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer pushed back against progressives’ cries for him to retire to allow President Joe Biden to appoint another liberal judge and believes that making the Supreme Court political could cause the public to lose faith in the institution altogether.
The 83-year-old justice who was appointed to the high court by former President Bill Clinton discussed on “Fox News Sunday” the importance of public acceptance of the Supreme Court, an idea he delves into further detail in his new book, “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics.”
Originally proffered by Alexander Hamilton, the idea holds that the judicial branch of government requires public support to maintain credibility and authority. Although the Declaration of Independence clearly outlined that governments should derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed,” Breyer explained there is an elevated need for consent for the judicial branch in the event the other two start driving outside their lanes.
“I think, well, people understand to some degree why it’s a good idea what Hamilton thought. And he thought the court should be there because there should be somebody – somebody who says when the other two branches of the government have gone outside the confines of this document,” he explained in reference to the Constitution, according to a report by Fox News.
Democrats have renewed their interest in packing the Supreme Court with additional justices in an effort to quash the current conservative majority and have taken aim at Breyer in particular. However, the San Francisco native is opposed to adding justices to the bench.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 10, 2021
“Well, if one party could do it, I guess another party could do it,” he said. “On the surface, it seems to me you start changing all these things around and people will lose trust in the court.”
As an alternative to packing the court, Breyer has suggested that term limits may be more appropriate, although in his opinion, the term would have to have to be significantly long.
“I think you could do that. It should be a very long-term because you don’t want the judge who’s holding that term the start thinking about his next job. But it would make life easier for me,” he said.
He is unsure when he will retire but does acknowledge that he will probably not serve his entire life term.
“I don’t intend to die on the court. I don’t think I’ll be there forever,” he explained.
Breyer’s response to any and all questions about his possible retirement is basically to say that it’s complicated pic.twitter.com/z1PcfQg7il
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 12, 2021
“There are many factors, in fact, quite a few,” Breyer said. “And the role of court and so forth is one of them. And the situation, the institutional considerations are some. And I believe, I can’t say I take anything perfectly into account, but in my own mind, I think about those things.”
“I didn’t retire because I decided on balance I wouldn’t retire,” he added.
Although the courts have become a political hot button issue, he explained that he continues to serve the public at large, regardless of political affiliation.
“I’m there for everybody. I’m not just there for the Democrats. I’m not just there for the Republicans. And I’m not just there because the president was a Democrat who appointed me,” he said. “It’s a very great privilege to be in that job. And part of it is to remember that you’re there for everyone. They won’t like what you say half the time – or more. But you’re still there for them.”
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