Justice Stephen Breyer Should Retire Right Now

Yeah, it will all come down to Manchin. If he stays, D nominee sails through. If he flips, D nominee doesn’t. And barring something heavily unusual, there’s no reason he’d flip.

It’s a bit of a digression but I want to say that I really agree with this. Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Susan Collins – none of them are still in office because their opponents were underfunded. They had enormous amounts of money to spend. As you note, at some point, political money hits a diminishing return. And a candidate suddenly being awash in more money than they know what to do with can have a pernicious effect, thinking they can buy the election through advertising and paid staff rather than doing the nuts-and-bolts of block walking and engaging volunteers.

What Democrats in Kentucky and elsewhere need is not a billionaire savior airdropping money in for one race, but a sustained investment in party building.

I know. It was just wishful thinking on my part.

Absolutely true (although such a sustained effort will take money).

An excellent candidate with $88M and an excellent strategic ground game could make a plausible run at unseating the Turtle.

McGrath was not that candidate.

One of the other “problems” of having too much money is that the candidate is besieged by consultants, pollsters, public relations specialists, etc., all trying to grab the steering wheel and hoover up as much of that cash as they can. You really need a candidate (or really a campaign manager) who has a strong strategic vision of how to win the campaign and the strength to enforce it.

True. Which is kind of why I hoped Mike Bloomberg would get behind a good candidate. I despised him as mayor of New York, but there’s no denying he’s a smart guy who knows how to get things done.

I suspect they’d be smart to add to all that a few sessions of advice from Stacey Abrams.

It’s true that Kentucky is not Georgia, but I still think she might have some useful wisdom to offer.

eta: oh, and YES, Justice Stephen Breyer SHOULD retire right now.

If there were more teamwork between a presidential administration and like-minded justices on the Supreme Court, the most optimal solution would be to retire all 60+year old liberal or conservative justices every time a new liberal or conservative president takes office, respectively. Maybe even all 55+ year olds.

Sotomayor and Kagan aren’t exactly young either. Sure, they’re middle-aged by SCOTUS standards, but from an actuarial/medical standpoint, old is old. In theory, Biden ought to ask both of them, and Breyer, to retire, and have them all replaced by 40-year old liberals.

Purge and refresh, purge and refresh.

“Teamwork” between an administration and a Supreme Court justice is, and should be, seriously off-limits.

Believe me, we don’t want that. And no president should be able to “ask” a justice to retire. No president should ever even speak to a justice.

That would make the swearing-in awkward.

They are not fully Gods until “I do” finishes echoing.

It is hard for mere mortals to grasp.

Agreed. Such a scenario would make the Court an openly and fully a political branch instead of being a semi-secret semi-political branch.

But why the rush in this thread to have Breyer retire? First, you have a full year. He could retire after next term and Biden and the Dems could replace him. Second, be careful what you wish for. There is a lot of scuttlebutt that Breyer is being an elder statesman and tugging on Roberts and Kavanaugh to moderate some of their opinions–such as the Philly foster care case.

If you get rid of him and appoint some hotshot radical young liberal, then you lose Roberts and Kavanaugh in the close cases.

Huh? Is this suggestion on the table?

The rush is that the Dems need to pick the next SC member while they have the votes. That could change at any time, even before the midterms through some unforeseen event.

In a 50-50 Senate, you’re always one coconut-to-the-head away from losing your majority.

I’m hoping that this is all being said tongue-in-cheek, but just on the off chance that you’re serious, I don’t think a jurist who believes that their political leanings were a greater contribution to the court than their own particular flavor of jurisprudence would be worthy of a choice, no matter how reliable their vote might be.

Clever. But I think you can see my point.

Well, I’m not being tongue-in-cheek. We already have Dopers who have complained before here on the Dope that the Supreme Court is already a nakedly partisan political institution (I don’t agree that it is, but that’s what they have claimed.)

So if it really is as such, then the most logical thing to do would be to focus on 1) partisan leaning and 2) age. That way you ensure you always have young, healthy partisan justices who are on the bench, who in theory couldn’t or wouldn’t be replaced for many years to come. And the way that would be done would be for an administration to purge and replace any 60+ year old justices of their leaning whenever they can.

It’s not ideal, but it would be the logical way to approach if it indeed SCOTUS is nothing but just another partisan arm, as some accuse it of being.

I feel like a lot of Dopers don’t really understand that a great deal of the Court’s work isn’t done on partisan lines. Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens, perhaps the two justices with the greatest ideological divergence in the past 50 years, agreed on almost 70% of cases heard.

While organizations like the Federalist Society and ACS suggest lists of judges to presidents for nomination to the Court, they don’t limit themselves to just judges they feel will vote the right way on abortion, guns and immigration. Both pick good jurists. If they had to select completely new slates of under-45 judges every 4, 8 or even 12 years (it doesn’t seem reasonable that either political party will have a run longer that with control of the executive these days) that they would be able to put forward top-notch candidates.

One would hope that the track records of judges like John Paul Stevens, David Souter, John Roberts and even Stephen Breyer (Clinton was a far more conservative president than Breyer has been a Justice) would suggest to Dopers that predicting the decisions of judges is a bit of a fool’s game at best, and that trying to regularly paint the court with R/L decisions would lead to more of a certainty in the most divergent cases, but would lead to pure chaos in the routine work of the Court.

I agree with this to an extent. Yes, many people look at Supreme Court Justices like they are just placeholder votes for their favorite causes. And as you say, that it not always true.

However, I think as much as most people overstate the differences, this statement understates them. Sure, they agreed 70% of the time. But many cases are unanimous. A lower court got something grievously wrong, created a circuit split that was untenable, and the Court just wants to correct it. In addition, there are other cases that are just bland, boring cases about how to construe a particular statute that has no political bent whichever way it comes out. Add into that Scalia’s propensity to side with criminal defendants on Fourth Amendment issues more so than other conservatives, and I’m surprised it was only 70%.

However, on the big issues, abortion, guns, etc., the ones people rally in front of the court building about, you know they will be on different sides.