He played a key role in the court’s last term, writing the majority opinion turn down a challenge for the Affordable Care Act and protect freedom of speech of a high school student. The fact that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr entrusted those opinions to him is a reflection of Justice Breyer’s seniority, his willingness to write narrow decisions to achieve a broad majority and perhaps a attempt to keep him on court a little longer.
Other members of the court also turned to Justice Breyer to perform delicate duties. In 2016, for example, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, as the senior justice of the majority, appointed an important abortion view for Justice Breyer and not Justice Ginsburg, presumably calculating that the resulting opinion is more likely to be modest, technical, and accepted by the five judges.
In an interview in AugustJustice Breyer said he is grappling with the question of when to step down.
“There are a lot of things that go into retirement,” he said.
He recalls an endorsement that Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, told him.
“He said, ‘I don’t want someone appointing someone who is going to reverse everything I’ve done for the past 25 years,’” Justice Breyer recalls. “It’s definitely going to be in the psyche” of his decision, he said.
“I don’t think I’ll be there until I die – hopefully not,” he said.
Over the years, Justice Breyer has been critical of allegations that judges acted politically. “My more than 30 years of experience as a judge has shown me that, once men and women take an oath before the law, they take an oath with their hearts,” he said in April in a statement. Lectures at Harvard Law School. “They were loyal to the rule of law, not loyal to the political party that helped secure their appointment.”
On the bench, his demeanor is professional, and his rambling questions, often laced with colorful hypotheticals, can be captivating or exasperating. But they display a lively curiosity and an open mind.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/us/stephen-breyer-retire-supreme-court.html Stephen Breyer will retire from the Supreme Court