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Progressive group ramps up pressure on Justice Breyer to retire

Demand Justice, an advocacy group led by a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHow to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs On The Money: How demand is outstripping supply and hampering recovery | Montana pulls back jobless benefits | Yellen says higher rates may be necessary Senate Democrats announce B clean bus plan MORE (D-N.Y.), is pressing longtime liberal stalwart Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerSupreme Court weighs leniency for crack cocaine sentences The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Biden sales pitch heads to Virginia and Louisiana Court watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement MORE to retire from the Supreme Court.

The group launched its effort Friday and wants Breyer, 82, to step down so that President BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE can appoint the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court while Democrats have control of the Senate.

“We are now firmly in the window when past justices have announced their retirement, so it's officially worrisome that Justice Breyer has not said yet that he will step down. The only responsible choice for Justice Breyer is to immediately announce his retirement so President Biden can quickly nominate the first-ever Black woman Supreme Court justice,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice and a former top aide to Schumer.

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Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia appointed by former President Obama, is considered a top candidate to make history on the high court. Biden recently nominated her to fill Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Biden set to flex clemency powers Genetic material from 1993 killing revealed years after another man executed for crime, groups say MORE's open seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Demand Justice has hired a billboard truck to drive around the Supreme Court with the message: “Breyer, retire. It’s time for a Black woman Supreme Court justice. There’s no time to waste."

The group also launched an online petition asking signatories to “Tell Justice Breyer: Put the country first. Don’t risk your legacy to an uncertain political future. Retire now.’”

Demand Justice noted that two other prominent liberal justices, former Justice David Souter and former Justice John Paul Stevens, announced their retirements during Obama’s first two years in office.

Souter was replaced by Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Sotomayor blasts Kavanaugh's decision on juvenile life sentences Supreme Court rejects challenge to juvenile life sentences MORE, the first Latina to serve on the court. Stevens was replaced by Justice Elena KaganElena KaganCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Sotomayor blasts Kavanaugh's decision on juvenile life sentences Supreme Court rejects challenge to juvenile life sentences MORE.

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Progressive activists are still feeling stung by the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion MORE, one of the most influential liberal justices to serve on the court in recent decades. Her death in September opened the way for Senate Republicans to speedily confirm President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE’s nominee, conservative judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Conservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation MORE, before the November presidential election. 

With the Senate now split 50-50 and the 2022 midterm elections fewer than 20 months away, activists on the left are nervous about the future of Breyer’s seat.

If Democrats lose their Senate majority next year, there’s no guarantee that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE (Ky.) would hold a hearing on Biden’s nominee. McConnell famously denied Garland a hearing or a vote in 2016 after Obama nominated him.

“We cannot afford to risk Democrats losing control of the Senate before a Biden nominee can be confirmed. Justice Breyer is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt at this point. Those worried about the Court's future should speak up to ensure he understands the need for him to time his retirement wisely,” Fallon said on Friday.

Democrats could also lose their Senate majority before the 2022 midterm if any member of their caucus from a state with a Republican governor leaves office unexpectedly. Governors typically pick someone from their own party to temporarily fill a vacant Senate seat until a special election can be held.