Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) is calling on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire so President Joe Biden can appoint a younger successor to the high court.
“There’s no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term. My goodness, have we not learned our lesson?” Jones said, per The Hill. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority, and Jones, who represents Westchester and Rockland Counties, wants to ensure that a Democratic president gets to select the 82-year-old’s successor.
“We can’t risk losing yet another seat on the high court to the radical, anti-democracy far-right, which is why I urge Justice Breyer to step down at the end of the term and allow President Biden to fill his seat with a nominee who will carry on Breyer’s legacy,” Jones told the Daily News.
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When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last year, former President Trump wasted no time in putting a third conservative justice on the court. Jones said he is “excited about the opportunity for this president, President Biden, to appoint and then for the Senate to confirm jurists for the Supreme Court who are not hostile to our democracy.”
“Who will adjudicate cases that will protect and preserve voting rights and that will respect the will of Congress, frankly,” he said.
“The far-right will stop at nothing to maintain its grip on the Supreme Court, something Republicans made clear when they refused to hold a single hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination for more than a year, only to push through Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination just days before a presidential election,” Jones added.
The progressive group Demand Justice recently launched the “Breyer Retire” campaign and an online petition pushing for him to step down. Breyer, who was appointed to the high court in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton, is the oldest justice on the court. Progressives said he is “risking the Senate falling into Republican hands before Democrats can confirm Biden’s nominee.”
While Biden has said he will appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, he’s putting no pressure on Breyer to retire.
“He believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s time to no longer serve on the Supreme Court,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier this month.
The pressure for Breyer to make way for a Black woman justice comes as Democrats discuss expanding the Supreme Court. An earlier report on theGRIO noted that President Biden has announced the formation of a commission to study the structure of the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to expand the number of justices serving on the court from nine to 13.
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The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
The Supreme Court can be increased by an act of Congress, as Congress dictates its size, not the Constitution. In 1789, President George Washington signed a judiciary act that set the number of justices at six, and the court has had nine since 1869. According to History.com, before that, the number of justices fluctuated between five and 10.
The newly-formed commission will study the number of justices on the court, as well as their length of service. Changes to the Supreme Court are not popular with most voters. The idea of “packing the court” — which, essentially, means adding seats to it in order to secure a majority — was a persistent issue during the 2020 presidential election. President Biden has said that he is “not a fan.”
Republicans have condemned the bill, and intend to make it an issue in the 2022 midterm elections, according to the report.
*theGRIO’s Biba Adams contributed to this report.
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