Speculation about the potential retirement of liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has been heating up for months, and now adding her name to the list of those on the left urging him to step down is progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), as The Hill reports.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Ocasio-Cortez was asked by host Dana Bash whether she agreed with many of her liberal colleagues that Breyer – now 82 years of age – ought to leave the high court to ensure that his replacement would be chosen by President Joe Biden.
“You know, I – it’s something that I’d think about, but I would probably lean towards yes. But yes, you’re asking me this question, so I’ve just – I would give more thought to it, but, but I’m inclined to say yes,” the congresswoman explained.
Ocasio-Cortez was also asked to weigh in on comments made by fellow liberal lawmaker Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), who said in April that “there’s no question” that Breyer needs to leave the bench now in order to facilitate the confirmation of a like-minded successor, and she declared that she believes “Rep. Jones has a point.”
At the time of his remarks, Jones also rhetorically asked, “my goodness, have we not learned our lesson,” a clear reference to the decision of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg not to retire during the Obama years, a fact which led to her replacement ultimately being selected by former President Donald Trump.
Earlier this year, Capital University law professor Dan Kobil encapsulated much of the current thinking among the liberal intelligentsia, arguing, “I’m sure Breyer realizes what a blow Justice Ginsburg’s non-retirement was to the possibility of ever having an even mildly progressive Court in our lifetime,” adding, “So I think he would not want to double down on what many view as her miscalculation.”
Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Jones are not alone among those in Congress who seem to be nudging Breyer out the door, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CA) earlier this year offering a diplomatic – yet unmistakably forthright – take on the situation, as Politico noted.
Suggesting that he “would never presume” to tell a sitting justice to depart the court, Blumenthal added that Breyer is surely “very familiar with the potential risks of a Republican president appointing his successor,” and that he suspects “he has in mind the bests interests of the country and will make the right decision.”
While Breyer has yet to make any public indication of his intentions, he has issued more general warnings about what he fears are ill-advised attempts to manipulate the judiciary for partisan gain, aptly remarking in April, “It is wrong to think of the Court as another political institution…and it is doubly wrong to think of its members as junior league politicians.”