Justice Stephen Breyer At Harvard

(Photograph by Paul Marotta/Getty Photos,)

With the information of Justice Stephen Breyer’s determination to retire from the Supreme Courtroom got here a tsunami of statements from companions at a few of America’s most elite corporations, professors at prime legislation faculties, leaders of nonprofits of all stripes, politicians from either side of the aisle, and a few of Breyer’s personal former clerks. Listed here are a choose few that we acquired right here at Above the Legislation. We’ll present updates all through the day.


“We’re indebted to Justice Breyer for his a long time of service to the Supreme Courtroom, the Structure and legal guidelines of america. His service to the Structure led him to uphold the equal citizenship of girls, sharply query the constitutionality of capital punishment, reaffirm the basic proper to vote, defend the constitutionality of affirmative motion, and underscore the facility of the federal authorities to guard the environment. Despite the fact that others on the Courtroom would extra readily embrace the label of originalist, Justice Breyer ceaselessly and powerfully rooted his protection of basic rights within the textual content and historical past of the Structure.

“We urge President Biden to appoint as Justice Breyer’s successor a justice who will honor and prolong Justice Breyer’s legacy of constancy to the Structure and its arc of progress, and look ahead to the success of his promise to appoint the primary Black girl in our nation’s historical past to serve on the Courtroom.” — CAC President Elizabeth Wydra

“Justice Breyer’s legacy will likely be outlined largely by his broad concepts about our system of presidency. He’s a pragmatist who believes deeply that our Structure and our authorities ought to work for the American individuals, and people beliefs in flip have formed the best way he thinks concerning the position of the courts in our system of presidency.

“As a result of he thinks the legislation ought to work for individuals, Justice Breyer cares deeply concerning the real-world context wherein the Courtroom is working, in addition to the implications of the Courtroom’s choices. These considerations are clearly evident in lots of the opinions he has written through the years in circumstances starting from reproductive rights to highschool desegregation to the scope of congressional energy.

“Whereas he was ceaselessly in dissent over the course of his time on the Courtroom, he all the time remained optimistic, assured that in the long run our authorities will work, and the courts will play an essential position in making that occur. That optimism and confidence may even be an essential a part of his legacy.” — CAC Chief Counsel Brianne Gorod, a former Breyer clerk


“Justice Breyer’s retirement would be the newest within the trendy pattern of politically timed retirements on the Supreme Courtroom. Whereas we all know Breyer is a real believer that the Courtroom is an unbiased, apolitical establishment, the nomination and affirmation scheme because it presently exists makes that an impossibility.

“Till we transfer to regularized appointments and time period limits, the one logical alternative for Supreme Courtroom justices actually dedicated to their life’s work is to time their retirements so a like-minded successor can maintain the seat for the following 30-plus years. That’s partly what makes SCOTUS probably the most highly effective, least accountable physique of Washington.

“To depoliticize the Courtroom and take energy away from its 9 self-styled philosopher-kings, Congress ought to take away the choice of when to step down from every particular person justice.

“Justice Breyer could have served an honorable 28 years on the Supreme Courtroom. Very like his questions at oral argument, that will likely be about twice so long as it ought to have been.” — FTC Govt Director Gabe Roth


“The Left bullied Justice Breyer into retirement and now it’ll demand a justice who rubber stamps its liberal political agenda. And that’s what the Democrats will give them, as a result of they’re beholden to the darkish cash supporters who helped elect them.” — JCN President Carrie Severino


“We applaud Justice Stephen Breyer for making the choice to retire and permit President Biden the chance to hold out his promise of nominating the primary Black girl to the Supreme Courtroom. Whereas his retirement gained’t be the final word answer to repairing a Courtroom dedicated to dismantling democracy, it’s an historic second that can permit us to maneuver one step nearer to a Courtroom that represents the variety and experiences of individuals all through the nation.

“Nonetheless, it stays crucial that Congress develop the Courtroom to maneuver us to a spot the place the authorized system will not be beholden to far-right and pro-corporate pursuits and priorities. We implore President Biden, as now we have for the reason that begin of his presidency, to prioritize skilled variety as he selects Justice Breyer’s successor. It’s crucial that we normalize having public curiosity attorneys on the bench; that eperience is woefully lacking on the very best court docket of the land. We look ahead to President Biden shifting to appropriate that.” — Individuals’s Parity Challenge’s Coverage & Program Director Tristin Brown


“Justice Breyer is the right mixture of brilliance concerning the legislation, optimism about our establishments, and pragmatism concerning the world round him – all of which can have led to his determination right this moment. It was an honor to clerk for him – the bench is not going to be the identical with out him however even in his retirement he will likely be contributing to the power of the Courtroom.” — Karen Dunn, Associate at Paul, Weiss LLP, a former Breyer clerk


“With Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement, the Supreme Courtroom is shedding an excellent authorized thoughts and a champion of liberty and equality. Justice Breyer’s tenure on the Courtroom established him as a defender of LGBTQ+ civil rights and his choices delivered essential progress towards our nation’s founding ultimate of a extra excellent union that’s inclusive and equitable for all. The Human Rights Marketing campaign is deeply grateful for Justice Breyer’s impression.

“The stakes couldn’t be greater for LGBTQ+ individuals, ladies, and Black and brown communities relating to the subsequent Supreme Courtroom Justice. President Biden’s first nominee has huge sneakers to fill, as they are going to form the way forward for progress on LGBTQ+ equality and play an outsized position in defending the rights and protections which have already been gained. President Biden has the chance to assist form a court docket that displays the gorgeous variety of our nation.” — HRC Interim President Joni Madison


“Throughout his practically three a long time on the Courtroom, Justice Breyer has been a dependable defender of the civil rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, having helped safe majority choices within the Supreme Courtroom’s 5 landmark LGBTQ+ rulings – Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. v. Windsor, Obergefell v. Hodges, and most lately, Bostock v. Clayton County. And simply final time period, Justice Breyer has authored quite a few choices of great significance to the LGBTQ neighborhood, together with California v. Texas, rebuffing the most recent assault on the constitutionality of the Reasonably priced Care Act, and Mahanoy Space Faculty District v. B.L., which affirmed the free speech rights of scholars whereas emphasizing the responsibility of faculties to handle harassment and bullying.

“We strongly urge President Biden to pick out a nominee whose dedication to equal justice underneath legislation is past query, and whose document demonstrates their understanding that LGBTQ+ persons are entitled to the complete safety of the Structure’s ensures of equality and liberty. We additionally be aware that this retirement presents President Biden with a historic alternative to handle the truth that, for too lengthy, our Supreme Courtroom has not adequately mirrored the variety of the authorized occupation or our nation as an entire. We look ahead to the President honoring his marketing campaign dedication to appoint a Black girl to the Supreme Courtroom, reaching a protracted overdue “first” for that establishment.

“Whereas we acknowledge that there will likely be vital power dedicated to filling this Supreme Courtroom emptiness within the coming weeks and months, we urge the President and the Senate to not lose sight of the significance of filling vacancies within the decrease courts, which additionally fail to mirror the variety of our nation. As famous in our current report assessing the primary 12 months of the Biden administration, the dearth of illustration is especially acute with respect to LGBTQ+ judges on the federal bench, with solely 14 brazenly lesbian or homosexual federal judges out of 870, a mere 1.6%, and no brazenly transgender, nonbinary or bisexual judges. The credibility of our whole judicial system turns in vital half on whether or not the general public can have faith that every one who search justice will likely be handled as having equal dignity and value within the eyes of the legislation, and for that motive, illustration issues as a lot on the bench because it does in different spheres of life.

“After 50 years of wrestle and sacrifice since Stonewall, our nation has come to know LGBTQ+ individuals and most now acknowledge our proper to equal safety underneath legislation. And but we all know that the forces in search of to rollback these rights are extra emboldened than ever earlier than. All individuals, together with however not restricted to these of us who’re LGBTQ+, want and deserve judges who will uphold the Structure, apply its ideas pretty, and defend the rights of everybody, not simply these with energy. The lives of LGBTQ+ individuals and their households cling within the stability.” — Lambda Authorized Chief Technique Officer and Authorized Director Sharon McGowan


“With Justice Breyer’s retirement, President Biden has a possibility to safe a seat on the bench for a justice dedicated to defending our democracy and the constitutional rights of all Individuals, together with the liberty to vote.

“President Biden promised to nominate the nation’s first-ever Black girl Supreme Courtroom justice, and he should make good on that promise. The president and vp’s voters are watching eagerly to see that he follows by and makes historical past together with his first Supreme Courtroom nomination.

“The Supreme Courtroom is dangerously imbalanced, with a 6-3 conservative supermajority actively eroding voting rights, abortion rights, environmental and employee protections, and extra. Whereas it is a crucial appointment, Congress should nonetheless act to revive stability to the court docket by passing the Judiciary Act, which provides 4 seats to the bench.” — SUA Founder & President Sean Eldridge


“Stephen Breyer served on the Supreme Courtroom with a gentle moderation and pragmatism. He was a liberal justice who sided with conservatives on some points, notably prison justice circumstances, the place he looked for sensible options to tough questions. However he was a robust protector of basic rights and freedoms. He stood out most for his unusually self-deprecating humor — in an setting that emphasizes hierarchy, he didn’t thoughts making jokes about his personal technological amateurism or his sometimes-meandering questions at oral argument.

“He might have realized the lesson of his long-time colleague, Justice Ginsburg, to not go away his retirement too late; although at 83, he had a protracted and storied time period on the Bench.” — Tonja Jacobi, Stanford Clinton Sr. and Zylpha Kilbride Clinton Analysis Professor of Legislation, Northwestern Legislation

“The Supreme Courtroom is already dangerously skewed to the suitable, and Breyer’s reluctance to retire made the hazard worse. This was a great determination. If Ruth Ginsburg had achieved the identical factor early in Obama’s first time period, we’d be dwelling in a special world.” — Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Legislation, Northwestern Legislation


“Justice Breyer has introduced his retirement a lot sooner than his predecessors. Justice Souter introduced on Could 1, 2009, and Justice Stevens introduced on April 9, 2010. Given this early discover, we may have a affirmation listening to in April or Could. Often, a Justice steps down upon the affirmation of their substitute. However given this early discover, a substitute could possibly be confirmed earlier than June.

“In all probability, the Supreme Courtroom could have added 4 new members within the span of six years. Justice Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017, Kavanaugh in October 2018, Barrett in October 2020, and now Breyer’s substitute in 2022.

“The final time the Supreme Courtroom noticed such a speedy turnover was throughout President Nixon’s tenure. Chief Justice Burger was confirmed in 1969, Justice Blackmun in 1970, and Powell/Rehnquist have been confirmed in 1971.” — Josh Blackman, affiliate professor, South Texas School of Legislation


“Justice Breyer has lengthy been a voice and a vote for civil liberties, human dignity, the suitable to vote, and good governance. In the most effective custom of a justice, he has paid cautious consideration to the implications of the court docket’s rulings for abnormal individuals and for the administration of justice. From defending abortion rights to indicting the loss of life penalty to safeguarding free speech and civil rights, Justice Breyer has demonstrated his dedication to the Structure’s highest beliefs. Justice Breyer hasn’t all the time dominated for us, however he has all the time earned our respect.

“The following justice will assist decide the course of our nation’s future, and specifically, the freedoms and rights of its individuals. We name on the president and the Congress to nominate a nominee who will respect and defend the Structure, the basic establishments of our democracy, and the rights of probably the most susceptible amongst us.” — ACLU Nationwide Authorized Director David Cole


“As each a Justice and a boss, Justice Breyer has been the embodiment of reasonableness and collegiality. After I clerked for him, he all the time listened with an open thoughts, and nonetheless strongly he disagreed on the deserves, he solely spoke kindly in disagreement. On one specific case, after numerous analysis, I inspired him to take a sure place that, after a major quantity of backwards and forwards, he finally declined. His response? ‘Thanks for this. I realized so much, and also you didn’t waste your time.’ He was additionally a consummate consensus builder, having fun with heat relations with all his colleagues across the constructing. Certainly, he discouraged us from worrying about taking credit score for one thing, calling credit score a weapon: ‘in case you succeed, there will likely be sufficient credit score to go round, and in case you don’t, who desires the credit score?’ The world could be higher if all of us comported ourselves a bit extra like Stephen G. Breyer. His affect on the Courtroom is difficult to overstate, and the Courtroom as an establishment is not going to be the identical with out him.” — David Louk, affiliate at Cooley, a former Breyer clerk


“Justice Breyer believes passionately within the significance of the Courtroom’s position in stabilizing and fostering democracy, and within the significance of the Courtroom’s credibility as an establishment dedicated to rule of legislation. He approaches every case with an open thoughts, tries laborious to grasp the strongest factors of every facet, and has a deep dedication to the facility of concepts and dialogue, each to influence and be persuaded.

“Justice Breyer is understood within the Courtroom for his humorous and artistic hypothetical questions in arguments meant to check the bounds of an advocate’s place; it was all the time enjoyable to listen to what situation would possibly happen to him throughout argument.

“Justice Breyer’s legacy is his dedication to public dialogue, within the court docket and in our democracy, and to the Courtroom’s credibility as an neutral establishment that protects the rule of legislation. He additionally helped Individuals perceive the position of the Courtroom and what it does – each from his position on the bench and within the books he wrote.” — Matthew Value, Associate at Jenner & Block, a former Breyer clerk


“We thank Justice Breyer for his a long time of service, defending the suitable to abortion, well being care, and our civil liberties. Justice Breyer’s opinions in Entire Lady’s Well being v. Jackson and June Medical Companies LLC. v. Russo helped fend off assaults on abortion entry, which proceed to accentuate.

It’s gone time that those that sit on the Supreme Courtroom mirror the make-up of our nation. The stakes are excessive and we look ahead to President Biden honoring his dedication to nominate a Black girl to the Supreme Courtroom.

We want a justice system that’s dedicated to equality in order that communities of colour, together with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) ladies and ladies, can reside free from discrimination and violence.” — Nationwide Asian Pacific American Girls’s Discussion board Govt Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow


“Justice Breyer has been considered one of our strongest defenders of reproductive freedom, and we at Deliberate Parenthood thank him for his a long time of service to the nation. His retirement comes at a time when entry to abortion and different basic rights are underneath assault like by no means earlier than, in no small half as a result of the federal courts have allowed states to severely prohibit the constitutional proper to abortion. These threats present no indicators of slowing down, and our Supreme Courtroom ought to mirror our values and defend our constitutional rights. We’re calling on President Biden to swiftly nominate a certified candidate who is aware of that the Structure protects particular person liberty and our proper to make choices about our personal our bodies. They have to even be a daring power working to finish our nation’s two very totally different, racially-divided, programs of justice.” — Deliberate Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Legislation, the place she’s labored since 2011. She’d love to listen to from you, so please be at liberty to e-mail her with any suggestions, questions, feedback, or critiques. You’ll be able to observe her on Twitter or join along with her on LinkedIn.

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