Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer tells Biden he will retire at noon THURSDAY after last opinions

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer tells Biden he will formally retire at noon THURSDAY after final opinions are issued and days after Roe v. Wade was overturned – clearing the way for Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in

  • At 83 years old, Breyer is the oldest currently serving justice on the high court
  • Breyer is also one of the Supreme Court’s only three liberal justices 
  • He told President Joe Biden his retirement will go into effect this week via letter
  • Incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Biden appointee, will then make history becoming the Supreme Court’s first black female justice
  • Thursday also marks the end of the court’s most politically charged docket 

Thursday will mark the final day on the Supreme Court bench for 83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer, clearing the way for future Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first black woman on the high court.

Tomorrow will also be the last day for the judicial body’s most politically-charged docket in modern history. 

In the last week the Supreme Court undid five decades of precedent and dramatically altered the reality of women’s reproductive health when it repealed federal abortion protections granted in Roe v. Wade and its sister case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Before that, it dramatically expanded gun rights in a case that overruled New York state’s longstanding requirement to show reasonable cause before obtaining a concealed carry firearms permit.

Breyer’s retirement officially goes into effect at 12 p.m. on June 30, the court’s final day of handing down opinions, he said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday. 

Next term, his old seat will be filled by Biden appointee Jackson, who was confirmed largely along party lines in a 53-47 Senate vote this past April.

‘I understand that she is prepared to take the prescribed oaths to begin her service as the 116th member of this Court,’ Breyer wrote in his letter to the president.

83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer is one of the court’s three liberals and the oldest jurist currently serving on the bench

‘The Court has announced that tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m., it will hand down all remaining opinions ready during this Term. Accordingly, my retirement from active services…will be effective on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at noon.’ 

He added in closing, ‘It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law.’

Breyer is one of the Supreme Court’s three liberals and is the oldest currently-serving justice.

The veteran jurist was reportedly left ‘blindsided’ when news of his retirement leaked in January, before he could reveal it himself. He delivered remarks from the White House formally announcing his retirement shortly after.

Breyer had faced a growing public and private pressure campaign to step down from his lifetime appointment, with Democrats fearing a repeat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death allowing Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to speed through Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation just weeks before the 2020 presidential election.

But Jackson’s appointment, while historic, will do little to alter the makeup of the judicial body’s conservative supermajority – three of whom were appointed by Trump.


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