Pictures and reality
Breyer has made it clear that he does not want to be seen as a liberal jurist or a Democratic appointee. He wants people to think of him as a fair judge. Jurisdiction of the court, he said in a speech last yeardepends on “the belief that the courts are guided by legal principles, not politics.”
Other judges made similar arguments. “We don’t have Judge Obama or Judge Trump, Judge Bush or Judge Clinton,” Chief Justice John Roberts speak in 2018. Barrett put it bluntly last year: “This court does not cover a series of partisan hacks.”
That’s a fair description of the judges’ rulings on many cases. Unanimous rulings and unorthodox alliances among judges are common, especially in technical cases that receive little extralegal attention. Sometimes the same is true of well-known cases, such as the recent cases of Obamacare and LGBTQ rights.
But for many of the closely watched cases that shape everyday life in America, judges have been divided on ideological views, especially in recent years. On issues of abortion, guns, labor unions, corporate regulation, gerrymandering, campaign finance, and voting rights, the best way to predict the judges’ votes is to know if the president is a Democrat. or the Republic appointed them. Courts can often seem like a sort of super-legislature, despite the objections of Breyer and his colleagues.
For that reason, his retirement is likely to have only a modest effect on the major cases to come. One Democrat – Bill Clinton – has nominated Breyer, and another Democrat – Joe Biden – will replace him. Breyer’s successor may be somewhat more liberal than he is, a reflection of the Democratic Party’s shift since Clinton’s presidency. But any such difference will not matter in most cases.
The biggest impact of Breyer’s retirement is the situation it prevents (assuming, of course, that the Democratic-controlled Senate confirms Biden’s candidacy). His departure means that Breyer has not followed the pattern of Ginsburg, Brennan, Marshall and Warren. Breyer will never be as liberal as each of them, but he has managed to uphold liberal ideals – ideals he and they shared – in the final chapter of his public life. me.
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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/briefing/stephen-breyer-retirement-biden-nomination.html Justice Breyer’s Retirement and His Impact on the Supreme Court