Amy Klobuchar is urging liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to decide ‘sooner rather than later’ if he’s going to retire so President Joe Biden can appoint a replacement.
‘I’m not going to speculate on his retirement,’ Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate, told CNN Sunday morning when asked about a report on Breyer’s retirement.
‘When you look at the court, he has to be concerned about the makeup and you have to be concerned about how you get a justice on the court with all the manipulation that Mitch McConnell has engaged in,’ she continued.
‘He makes his own decision about if he is going to retire,’ Klobuchar said in an interview with State of the Union, ‘but if he is going to retire, it should be sooner rather than later if you are concerned about the court.’
Democrats are specifically concerned after Donald Trump was able to appoint three Supreme Court justices during his four years in office – most importantly taking a liberal spot left vacant when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020, just two months before the election.
Senator Amy Klobuchar told CNN on Sunday that liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, needs to decided ‘sooner rather than later’ if he’s retiring so a Republican president doesn’t end up appointing his replacement
Breyer said last week he has not decided when to step down, after being publicly pressured to announce his retirement at the end of the court’s term to allow President Biden to pick a new justice
Klobuchar, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, referenced on Sunday morning the Republican-controlled Senate blocking then President Barack Obama from filling the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat when it was left vacant in February 2016, nine months before Trump was elected.
The left has accused Republicans of double standards by not allowing Obama to fill the seat with Merrick Garland, and instead leaving it open for months so eventual President Donald Trump could fill it with conservative Neil Gorsuch.
In 2018, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a fellow conservative.
After Ginsburg was replaced by Amy Coney Barrett in October 2020, the court settled at a 6-3 conservative majority.
Democrats are looking to realign that – with some even proposing stacking the court by adding the number of justices so they can make it more balanced with a few liberal appointees.
They are also concerned that Trump, or any Republican for that matter, could win in 2024.
If Breyer, 82, decided to retire after 2024, and a Republican were in the White House, liberals could lose yet another seat on the court to a conservative.
Breyer was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Breyer is reveling in his current status as the senior liberal all the court and resisting pressure to retire.
He told CNN, when asked last week, that ‘no’, he has not decided when he will step down.
The 82-year-old is currently spending his summer in New Hampshire.
Breyer says he enjoys his seniority on the court, which currently has a 6-3 conservative majority
When he named the factors that would guide his decision, he did not mention anything having to do with the ideological makeup of the court, with a series of decisions falling along rigid lines with a 6-3 conservative majority.
‘Primarily, of course, health,’ Breyer said, when asked about what would inform his decision to step down. ‘Second, the court,’ he said.
He said he has been enjoying the prerogatives as a senior justice. The 27-year vet gets to speak first after Chief Justice John Roberts when the justices meet privately in conference. It ‘has made a difference to me,’ he said.
Some liberal commentators were pushing Breyer to step down when the court issued its final opinions in June, fearful of a replay of what happened with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg resisted similar pleas, then died at 87 last September. Trump quickly nominated a replacement, and then-Senate Majority Leader McConnell got the Senate to confirm Coney Barrett weeks before Biden was elected and Trump left office.
Justice Barrett is 49.
McConnell had already infuriated liberals by failing to hold a hearing on Garland after the death of Scalia.
This year the liberal group Demand Justice organized a billboard truck to circled the Supreme Court with the sign ‘Breyer, retire,’ and some lawmakers called for him to do so. Biden has pledged to nominate a black woman for the Supreme Court should a vacancy occur.
Control of the 50-50 Senate is up for grabs in 2022, and liberals fear if Republicans gain control Biden will be unable to get a justice confirmed in the second half of his term. Control could also flip should a death or vacancy in the Senate occur before then.