Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer issued a warning on Democrats wanting to remake the Supreme Court, including expanding the institution with justices, suggesting that Republicans will exploit Democrats’ agenda.
Breyer, in a wide-ranging interview with NPR, said he will not kowtow to calls from progressive lawmakers to retire due to his age.
“I’m only going to say that I’m not going to go beyond what I previously said on the subject, and that is that I do not believe I should stay on the Supreme Court, or want to stay on the Supreme Court, until I die,” the 83-year-old justice told the partially publicly funded broadcaster.
“And when exactly I should retire, or will retire, has many complex parts to it. I think I’m aware of most of them, and I am, and will consider them.”
When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last year and Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the top court, left-wing Democrat lawmakers called for the expansion, or “packing,” of the Supreme Court with several more justices.
In April, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that established an investigatory body to determine whether more seats should be added to the Supreme Court or whether term limits should be established for justices.
“There is no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term,” Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) told news website Cheddar in April, referring to Ginsburg’s death.
“My goodness, have we not learned our lesson?” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has issued similar statements.
But Breyer, who dismissed such calls earlier this year, again said that such notions haven’t had an impact on the justices.
“What goes around comes around. And if the Democrats can do it, the Republicans can do it,” Breyer told NPR while promoting his upcoming book, “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics.”
During the interview, Breyer also said that he welcomes in-person oral arguments after the court went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s better to be there where you can actually see the lawyer and see your colleagues, and you get more of a human interaction,” he said to NPR.
“We’re not automatons. We’re human beings,” Breyer also said. “And I believe when human beings discuss things face to face … there’s a better chance of working things out. That’s true with the lawyers in oral arguments, and it’s true with the nine of us when we’re talking.”