Breyer on Supreme Court future: 'I don't think I'm going to stay there till I die'

Supreme Court Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerBreyer: Supreme Court 'fallible,' but has served US 'pretty well' Supreme Court considers Kentucky AG's power to defend abortion restriction Justice Alito's heresy MORE on Friday provided an update on his thinking over the timing of his potential retirement, explaining that while he has not yet made a firm decision, he doesn’t believe he is “going to stay there till I die.” 

The 83-year-old, who is currently the oldest member of the high court, said in an interview published by The New York Times on Friday, “There are many things that go into a retirement decision.”

Breyer said that he is taking into account advice he received from the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who said, “I don’t want somebody appointed who will just reverse everything I’ve done for the last 25 years.” 


Breyer added, “I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die — hope not.” 

“There are a lot of blurred things there, and there are many considerations,” he told the Times on the factors shaping his retirement decision. 

“They form a whole,” he said, adding that he would eventually “make a decision.”

The interview, meant to promote Breyer's upcoming book, “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics,” provides the latest cryptic message from the justice who faces a growing campaign among liberals to retire so President BidenJoe BidenPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks State school board leaves national association saying they called parents domestic terrorists Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases MORE can appoint a younger, liberal justice to replace him while Democrats still control the Senate. 

Republicans have vowed to take back the upper chamber in 2022, potentially increasing the chances that senators will block a potential Biden Supreme Court pick. 


Breyer, who has continued to remain relatively tight-lipped on his decisionmaking, told CNN in an interview last month that there were two main factors contributing to his thinking on when he will retire. 

"Primarily, of course, health," the Clinton-appointed justice said at the time. "Second, the court."

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) said last month that “Senate Democrats stand ready to expeditiously fill any potential vacancies on the Supreme Court should they arise.” 

Meanwhile, other Democrats have expressed more directly their concerns on the timing of Breyer’s retirement, with Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Minn.) telling CNN last month that if Breyer was planning to step down, he should do so “sooner rather than later.”

The Minnesota senator said that while she was “not going to speculate on his retirement,” she added that Breyer “has to be concerned about the makeup” of the court, which currently has a 6-3 conservative majority.