Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) said over the weekend that liberal keystone Justice Stephen Breyer should retire from the Supreme Court soon so that President Joe Biden can nominate his replacement.
In the wake of last year’s fight over the replacement after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died while still serving on the court, Democrats are worried that if Breyer hangs on, a Republican president could replace him if he dies in office later this decade.
“You know, it’s something I think about, but I would probably lean towards yes,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union Sunday when asked if Breyer should retire at the end of this Supreme Court term. “I would give more thought to it, but I’m inclined to say yes.”
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) June 13, 2021
When she was alive, Ginsburg was asked why she didn’t retire earlier. She told CNBC, “Who you would prefer on the court (rather) than me?”
While Ginsburg could have retired while Obama was president, the Democrats faced the same problem that they face now: How do they get a justice confirmed in the face of GOP opposition?
Progressive Democrats are eager to tilt the Supreme Court to the left in order to move forward with plans that a more traditional court might find unconstitutional like single-payer healthcare, universal guaranteed income, or radical progressive voting reform.
“The New York congresswoman [AOC] told Bash, ‘I believe we should protect our Supreme Court and that (Breyer’s potential retirement) should absolutely be a consideration’ if the Senate is unable to pass a sweeping government, ethics and election bill that was approved by the House earlier this year,” says CNN.
According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 44.5% of all justices died in office and 47.3% retired from office through 2006.
“Political commentators and historical, legal and political researchers have argued that justices cling to office with apparent disregard for their own antiquity, physical infirmity, employment immobility, and pension-based economic security (equal to their full salary),” says the study authors.
“However, we know of no assertion anywhere that politicized departure offers any instrumental benefit to justices. Indeed, politicized departure is a tendency toward continued service by justices who otherwise would tend to resign from the Court, or accelerated departure by justices who otherwise would tend to remain on the Court,” they concluded.