Breyer warns Supreme Court justices: Rigid opinions could ‘bite you in the back’
Former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned current justices in his first televised interview since leaving the court this summer that writing opinions “too rigidly” can “bite you in the back.”
“You start writing too rigidly and you will see, the world will come around and bite you in the back,” warned Breyer in an interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace released on Friday.
“Life is complex, life changes. And we want to maintain insofar as we can — everybody does — certain key moral political values: democracy, human rights, equality, rule of law, etc. To try to do that in an ever-changing world.”
The former Clinton-appointed justice described his final term on the bench as “very frustrating” due to being in the minority on multiple groundbreaking cases, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Breyer addressed Dobbs on “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace,” saying that he did “everything I could to persuade people.”
“Was I happy about it? Not for an instant,” he said of the case’s outcome.
“But there we are and now we go on. We try to work together.”
However, the 28-year Supreme Court veteran condemned the leak of the Dobbs decision that occurred in early May, almost two months before the final decision was published.
“It was very damaging because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen,” he said of the leak.
The majority of the nine Supreme Court justices publicly condemned the leak and Chief Justice John Roberts launched an investigation into the incident shortly after it shocked the court.
Wallace also asked Breyer about the controversy surrounding Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Texts sent by Ginni Thomas to former President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed that she was supportive of efforts to overturn the 2020 election after Trump suffered his loss to Biden.
“I’m not going to criticize Ginni Thomas, whom I like. I’m not going to criticize Clarence, whom I like,” Breyer said, neglecting to provide an opinion.
The new Supreme Court term, with Breyer replacement and President Biden appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson becoming the first Black woman to serve on the court, will begin in two weeks and will take up cases dealing with highly contested issues including immigration, religious liberty, voting rights and affirmative action.