[guest post by JVW]
Pete Williams of NBC News appears to have broken the story, so we’ll give his network the link:
Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices, and his decision to retire after more than 27 years on the court allows President Joe Biden to appoint a successor who could serve for several decades and, in the short term, maintain the current 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices.
At 83, Breyer is the court’s oldest member. Liberal activists have urged him for months to retire while Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate. They contended that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stayed too long despite her history of health problems and should have stepped down during the Obama administration.
President Biden, of course, has pledged to nominate a black woman for the seat, so it would appear that approximately five percent of the eligible jurists in this country will receive consideration. Mandatory set-asides and such, I suppose.
With the Senate deadlocked at 50-50, with an election year coming, and with Biden having failed miserably at the whole “restore dignity and cooperation to Washington” goal, it’s bound to be a really fun confirmation process. If I were Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer, I don’t think I would be antagonizing Joe Manchin for any reason whatsoever this coming spring.