While the decision of an octogenarian jurist to retire after decades of service is not terribly surprising in and of itself, the manner in which Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s upcoming departure was revealed to the public on Wednesday did come as something as a shock, and according to Breitbart, a White House leak may well have been to blame.
News that Breyer planned to step down from the high court began to break on Wednesday, but media reports were quick to include the caveat that the justice himself had yet to either confirm or deny their veracity.
The timeline on which information was presented to the public led many commentators and pundits to suspect that the source of the news was, in fact, the White House, rather than sources at the Supreme Court, particularly given the Biden administration’s present desire to change the national topic of conversation after a string of policy defeats and controversies.
Indeed, Fox News’s Shannon Bream tweeted that, according to her SCOTUS sources, Breyer did not at all intend to announce his retirement Wednesday, and was in fact surprised, if not downright upset about the way things unfolded.
As Breitbart noted, well before the first media stories broke about the imminent vacancy at the high court, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain had already briefed Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (IL) of what was afoot, doing so via a phone call placed at roughly 9:30 a.m.
Suggestions that it was the White House, not Breyer, who let the news slip only bolster the belief of many that the long-serving liberal-leaning justice was effectively pressured into stepping down by far-left advocacy groups and others determined to ensure that the next open seat on the panel would be filled by a nominee of President Joe Biden’s choice.
Breyer has been the subject of what could rightly be characterized as a harassment campaign by those bent on replacing the justice with someone they view as an ideologically suitable successor, with the group Demand Justice among the most vocal in that regard.
The head of Demand Justice, former Hillary Clinton aide Brian Fallon, has been especially outspoken on the topic in recent months, saying last year that “people need to stop being sheepish about [demanding the justice’s retirement],” adding, “the longer that goes by without word from Breyer that he intends to step down…the more reckless it is.”
Conservative legal activist Carrie Severino lamented the politically craven nature of what occurred, noting, “Justice Breyer prides himself on not being a partisan and can’t be happy about a retirement announcement that was leaked (very possibly by the White House,” suggesting the possibility that “Joe Biden and left-wing dark money groups bullying him to retire wanted to be sure he followed through with it,” whether or not he was truly ready.