On January 26, various news outlets were circulating that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer had an intention to retire following the 2021-22 term. Breyer confirmed his resignation alongside President Biden on January 27 in a White House announcement.
The Democratic party has been urging Breyer to step down sooner rather than later so that they hold the power to fill the seat while Biden is still President. Stephen Breyer is an American lawyer and jurist who started his service on the court in 1994. He was nominated by democratic President Bill Clinton, replacing Harry Blackmun. He is typically associated with liberal values. It now becomes a scramble as Biden prepares to make decisions on who he feels is right to fill the seat. However, Biden seems to have a clear idea on how he plans to move forward.
In a South Carolina debate Biden stated, “I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we, in fact, get every representation,” reported The Wall Street Journal. As with any political decision, there are mixed feelings about this. Those in support of Biden and his ideals feel hopeful to see diversity and representation among the court. Black women in the legal industry themselves also feel empowered as they have been strongly discriminated against in legal settings.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz expressed his feelings on Biden’s announcement: “The fact that he’s willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I gotta say that’s offensive. You know, you know Black women are what, 6% of the US population? He’s saying to 94% of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you, you are ineligible,” CNN reported.
“The interesting thing about the Supreme Court is that it functions best if there’s a balance between what they call liberal and conservative justices. So generally democrats select liberal judges and republicans select conservative judges. So when a liberal justice retires and there’s a democrat in the white house, they can select a liberal judge justice to replace them. So that helps keep the balance,” said U.S. History teacher Mr. Ohrn.
One of the reasons this selection is a big deal is because Supreme Court Justices hold their position for life. There are 9 seats total and once someone is chosen, they can only be removed by impeachment or their own decision to step down. The President appoints someone, who is then approved by the Senate through a voting process to confirm the nominee. This action includes all branches of government as part of the decision; the Executive branch (the President), the Legislative branch (the Senate) are voting to decide the Judicial branch (Supreme Court). The Supreme Court holds an important duty in this country to interpret the law at a high level and uphold the rights of the Constitution, protecting the American people and their individual rights.
“The expected appointment will become a historic moment in the court’s lumbering progress toward diversity… With each nomination, the court got closer to representing America,” said authors Tarrio Mzezewa and Audra D.S. Burch in a New York Times article.
In conclusion, Breyer’s decision to step down has led to a multitude of questions for American citizens. There’s no doubt that the position will be filled by that of a member of the democratic party and Biden will stick to his decision to nominate a black woman. This decision of who fills the seat can impact rulings for decades to come. To stay updated, follow along with the news to see who gets appointed as the new Supreme Court justice.
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