Multiple major publications ran Op-Eds this week calling for Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid a scenario like that seen with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last fall.
The Associated Press headlined Thursday, “Breyer mum as some liberals urge him to quit Supreme Court.”
“Forgive progressives who aren’t looking forward to the sequel of their personal ‘Nightmare on First Street,’ a Supreme Court succession story,” reporter Mark Sherman wrote for The AP.
“The original followed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decision to forgo retirement from the high court, located on First Street in Washington, when Democrats controlled the White House and the Senate during six years of Barack Obama’s presidency, until 2015.”
Ginsburg resisted calls to retire and remained on the bench until her death at the age of 87 last September.
The result was six justices on the Supreme Court appointed by Republican presidents to just three appointed by Democrats.
University of Colorado Boulder law professor Paul Campos, in a Monday Op-Ed for The New York Times, contended that “Breyer should retire right now.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was widely, and deservedly, criticized for her refusal to retire from the Supreme Court at a time when a Democratic president could have chosen her replacement,” Campos wrote.
Breyer — who is the oldest member of the court — is now making the same mistake, Campos argued.
“The evident indifference on the part of Democrats regarding the failure of Justice Breyer, 82, to announce his retirement is apparently a product of the assumption that he will do so at some point during the current Congress and that therefore whether he does so anytime soon is not particularly important,” the professor explained.
“This is a grave mistake.”
Campos went on to point out the current 50-50 split in the Senate — meaning the balance of power could shift during the session at any moment, due to the death or departure of a Democratic senator for serious illness or other reasons.
In such a case, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky would likely become the majority leader again.
Campos noted that the party composition of the Senate has changed 27 of the 38 Congresses since World War II.
“At the moment, no fewer than six Democratic senators over the age of 70 represent states where a Republican governor would be free to replace them with a Republican, should a vacancy occur,” he wrote.
“Five other Democratic senators represent states for which a vacancy would go unfilled for months, until a special election to fill the seat was held — which would hand the G.O.P. control of the Senate,” the law professor added.
Campos concluded that Breyer “should announce his retirement immediately, effective upon the confirmation of his successor.”
Similarly, Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman contended that Breyer needs to get over himself and retire.
“[T]his is the time for him to make an investment in the future, allowing President Biden to secure his seat for the next few decades,” he argued in a Thursday Op-Ed for the outlet.
“And since Biden has pledged to nominate a Black woman to the court, Breyer can be part of a historic, long-overdue advancement.”