Politics

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire

Biden says he hasn't chosen a replacement yet but will nominate a Black woman to the high court, in a first in the nation's history.

Justice Stephen Breyer is in the final months of his career on the Supreme Court.
Getty

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of the current session after more than 27 years on the bench. On Thursday, Breyer sent a letter to President Joe Biden informing him of the decision, reported earlier by NBC News.

"I enormously appreciate the privilege of service as part of the federal judicial system -- nearly 14 years as a Court of Appeals Judge and nearly 28 years as a Member of the Supreme Court," Breyer wrote in the letter. "Throughout, I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law."

Breyer's retirement makes room for Biden to make an appointment to the high court, the first of his administration and the first since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died in 2020. 

Biden spoke about the retirement on Thursday at the White House alongside Breyer. His "brilliance, values and scholarship are why Judge Breyer became Justice Breyer by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the time," Biden said.

While the president said he hasn't made any choices yet, he committed to nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court. 

"The process is going to be rigorous," Biden said. "I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer's legacy, excellency and decency. I've made no decision except one: The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualification, character, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court. It's long overdue, in my view."

In the last year, the Supreme Court has ruled on and weighed in on topics like vaccine mandates for businesses, voting laws and Section 230, a law that protects social media companies from liability for content posted by their users.