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How long has Justice Breyer been on the Supreme Court?

News has broken that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire from the court after 27 years. We took a look at his most historic decisions.

Update:
News has broken that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire from the court after 27 years. We took a look at his most historic decisions.
JONATHAN ERNSTREUTERS

Supreme Court Justice Breyer retirement | live updates

After more than a quarter century, people close to Justice Stephen Breyer have said that he is planning to retire from the Supreme Court.

Nominated in 1994, Justice Breyer has been a stanch member of the liberal side of the bench for decades. At eighty-three years of age, Justice Breyer has said in the past that he would like to retire to enjoy the later years of his life without having to focus on his work.

The White House has made it clear that they will not make any formal statements relating to possible nominees until a formal announcement has been made by Justice Breyer.

Many progressives have been calling on Breyer to retire and late last year it seemed that he was not going to head their calls. Breyer made it clear that he would retire on his own time, but in an NPR interview did say that he "didn't want to be on the court until he died."

These calls increased after President Biden was elected just weeks after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Many worry that if Democrats are unable to hold the White House another seat could be handed to a Republican President to fill.

When was Justice Breyer nominated?

Stephen Breyer was nominated to the court in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. Breyer's name had been considered when deciding who should fill Byron White's seat in 1993. In the end Ruth Bader Ginsberg was nominated to fill the vacancy left by White, and Breyer would be nominated to full Harry Blackmum's seat the following year.

He testified in front of the Senate for over seventeen hours, and in the end was confirmed by a 87 to 9 vote on 29 July, 1994.

 What historic cases has Breyer presided over?

Since the mid-1990s, Justice Breyer has written majority and dissenting opinions across a wide variety of issues, including the environment, elections, the death penalty, sexual expression, healthcare and more.

In one of his most notable rulings, in the case of  Glossip v. Gross in 2015 which related to the death penalty, Breyer dissented on the 5–4 vote writing "For the reasons I have set forth in this opinion, I believe it highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment. At the very least, the Court should call for full briefing on the basic question."

In July 2020, when another case relating to the death penalty came before the court, he reiterated his issues with execution saying "As I have previously written, the solution may be for this Court to directly examine the question whether the death penalty violates the Constitution."

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