Justice Stephen Breyer Should Retire Right Now

Question: If Breyer retires with the Senate as it is right now (before 2022 midterms), can the Democrats count on all of their Senate votes to seat a Biden choice?

I’m assuming (and hope I’m wrong, but doubt it) that no Republican will vote for a Biden pick for the Supreme Court.

Or will some pissy, grandstanding, show-off, attention-hungry Democratic outliers stomp their feet and demand concessions from Biden on something-or-other in order to get on board?

If this is a shot at Manchin, he’s been a yes on every Biden nominee that has come up for a vote. And while he’s conditioned support for some bills on changes to that specific bill, he’s never tied his support for a nominee to concessions on an entirely different matter.

Honestly, I think Biden may end up having more trouble with the more progressive Senators on his nominee. He’s likely to nominate a justice just left of center. Progressive are feeling a bit used right now, and I could see a Sanders or a Warren throwing a fit and making demands. Ultimately they’d probably get on board, though.

Not Manchin particularly. But surely whoever demands their 15 minutes of the spotlight,

Surely, all the Democrats will see why there needs to be a leftward leaning justice on the court.

I think you’re right. It’s practically a job requirement for Senators of the President’s party considering a Supreme Court nominee to furrow their brows and puff out their chests and expound at length about just how seriously they’re taking their duty, they have important questions the nominee will need to address to earn their vote, etc, etc. And then they vote for the nominee.

I cannot imagine any Democratic Senator would actually oppose Biden’s nominee.

Dear God, I hope you’re right. :crossed_fingers:t4:

Breyer should retire as long as Schumer knows he can get 50 votes for a replacement. Its bad enough we have a 6-3 court, a 7-2 one would roll back civil rights, environmental laws and voting rights even more.

Do you think Schumer can count on those votes?

There’ no guarantee that a nominee gets confirmed. I think packing the court would be risky in 2022 but I’m not sure they have good choices. They hope they maintain both houses and wait until it’s a little ‘safer’ in 2023 and do the deed then. Regardless, the real bottom line is that centrist democrats need to realize who they’re dealing with and gain the upper hand by eliminating the filibuster entirely, or face a rigged congress for decades.

They can already do that with the current court composition; it’s just a matter of how long they can do it for. Can the conservative ideologues control the bench for another 10 years, or another 40?

Of course Breyer should retire. Anyone with half a brain can see that Republicans are halfway to their goal of packing the court with partisan lackeys. Anyone who cares about that would retire immediately.

And we need to get rid of lifetime tenure for SCOTUS justices. It’s painfully obvious by now that there’s a huge moral hazard in appointing someone one of the world’s most powerful people, for life, and accepting that they get to render judgment on issues whose outcomes they’ll never live to see.

Breyer sucks for not retiring, Ginsburg sucks for not retiring, but their behavior is about what I’d expect from anyone in their shoes. Power corrupts. Lifetime appointments corrupt absolutely.

Oh we all know that Sinema would just love to play some cutesy little attention-getting game with this.

Doesn’t sound like a good strategy for the D’s. Although Republicans have more Senate seats to defend than Democrats, and although the GOP is a massively incompetent circus at the moment, midterm elections generally go against the ruling party. The D’s might not even have 50 by the time 2023 rolls around.

As a point of information, the current Supreme Court justices in order of age are:

Stephen Breyer – 82
Clarence Thomas – 73
Samuel A. Alito, Jr. – 71
Sonia Sotomayor – 67
John G. Roberts – 66
Elena Kagan – 61
Brett Michael Kavanaugh – 56
Neil McGill Gorsuch – 53
Amy Coney Barrett – 49

Of course age isn’t a particularly great indicator of the order in which Justices will retire or pass away, but one would “expect” that (after Breyer) Thomas and Alito would be the next to leave the Court. Of course, that could easily be a decade or more away, and who knows who will be in the White House at that point.

There’s “attention-getting games,” and then there’s actually voting “no” on your party’s President’s Supreme Court nominee. The former is to be expected, grabbing attention is the raison d’etre of most United States Senators. Actually opposing a Biden nominee would open her to a world hurt from Democratic activists, donors and voters. And why would she – like Manchin, she’s voted for every Biden nominee so far.

There really aren’t a lot of good options for democrats. It’s agreed that packing the court would be viewed by many of the center-line voters as a ‘radical’ and unnecessary scheme to rig the courts; it’s too bad that there’s not the same level of scrutiny applied to the means by which the Republicans have achieved their current majority. But without packing, they probably can’t be as effective as they need to be with legislative and executive control.

They’re more than halfway; they’re already there. You won’t find more than a single defection from conservatives unless there’s something that’s repulsive to someone like Roberts, Gorsuch, or Kavanaugh, who are the only three justices I see even remotely capable of breaking away from the pack and joining liberals on any single issue. Coney Barrett is solidly conservative, in alignment with Alito and Thomas.

It’s just a question of how long the court remains in conservative hands. I honestly don’t think there’s anything that will change the composition of the court for the next 20-30 years unless there is a major, major political crisis – like total economic collapse, civil war, or both.

I’ve been thinking about how Senate Republicans might handle a Breyer replacement nomination. My assumption is that they’ll rant about socialism and critical race theory and whatever else Carlson Tucker is going off about at the time, and vote nearly unanimously against the nominee.

But the smarter play on their part would be to play the embodiment of reason on the nominee, particularly if Biden nominates a justice who’s maybe a little left but well within the judicial mainstream. They’ve got a solid conservative majority now. Switching out Breyer for another liberal justice doesn’t change anything, and its not like they can force Biden to nominate a conservative. And confirming his nominee with a fairly bipartisan vote lets them say that all the talk about the process being broken is overblown, it’s entirely possible for Democrats and Republicans to come together on a Supreme Court nominee, all this talk about eliminating the filibuster and expanding the court is alarmist nonsense, etc.

It also keeps their powder dry should a conservative justice unexpectedly leave the Court during Biden’s Administration, which they will fight to keep him from filling with a liberal justice.

But they’ll probably just rant about socialism and critical race theory and defund the police and all vote no except for Susan Collins who’ll vote “yes,” but “no,” but “yes”.

I think you’re giving them too much credit for good sense. I think the current principle of “opposing ANYTHING the Dems come up with, no matter what!” will prevail. Especially something of as much long-term consequence as a SC Justice.

You’re probably right. Mitch would see the value in this course, but he’d never be able to keep his MAGA-heads in line.

Yeah, Republicans have become so blinded that they fail to grasp that replacing a solid-left justice like Breyer with an only-a-little-bit-left-of-center justice would represent a conservative victory.