U.S. Supreme Court

Breyer feared waiting to retire from Supreme Court could result in nominee gridlock

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Stephen Breyer

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Photo by Evan Vucci/The Associated Press.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer decided to step down while Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate because he didn’t want to stay on the bench for years in the event that Republicans took over and blocked a replacement nominee.

Breyer talked about his reasoning in a recorded interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace on Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, CNN reports. The interview aired Sunday evening on CNN.

“There have been delays, you know, when the party is split between control of the Senate and control of the presidency,” Breyer said. “And sometimes, long times pass and I would prefer that my own retirement, my own membership on the court, not get involved in what I call those purely political issues.”

Breyer also commented on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. Breyer became “visibly emotional” as he talked, according to CNN.

“And you say did I like this Dobbs decision? Of course I didn’t. Of course I didn’t,” Breyer said. “Was I happy about it? Not for an instant. Did I do everything I could to persuade people? Of course, of course. But there we are and now we go on. We try to work together.”

Breyer acknowledged that the atmosphere at the Supreme Court has changed, pointing to the usually pleasant conversations at lunch after deliberating a case as an example.

The conversations are “maybe a little less jolly, but not I mean—I have not heard people in that conference room scream at each other in anger,” he said.

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