“We can’t afford to risk Democrats losing control of the Senate before President Biden can follow through on his promise to nominate the first Black woman Supreme Court justice,” the liberal group Demand Justice posted on Twitter. “It’s time for Justice Breyer to announce his retirement.”
The organization is launching a petition drive, according to Politico. The group also is responsible for a billboard truck driving around in D.C. bearing the messages “Breyer, Retire” and “Don’t risk your legacy.” The truck has been seen outside the Supreme Court.
The campaign comes after Justice Breyer, appointed by former President Clinton, poured cold water on progressives’ calls to expand the Supreme Court earlier this week, saying it would erode trust and make the court appear political. Liberals have urged Democrats to put new justices on the bench to counter the conservative 6-3 majority.
“Stephen Breyer‘s retirement is infrastructure and we need it urgently,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, playing off Democrats’ push for an infrastructure bill this month.
Justice Breyer is the oldest jurist on the high court, at 82 years old, and has served since 2004.
Retirement announcements usually come at the end of the Court‘s term, which typically ends in June.
Justice Breyer has not given any hint that an announcement would be coming this year.
Advocates who want Justice Breyer to retire point to other justices who stepped down at the end of a court’s term in June like Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010, and Justice David Souter, who retired in 2009.
Progressives are still fuming over the loss of the seat held by liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death last year created the opportunity for former President Trump to appoint a conservative jurist, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, to the bench.
Activists had called for Ginsburg to retire before President Obama left office, but she rejected the pressure.
Asked about the calls for Justice Breyer to retire, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president “believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s no longer time for him to serve on the Supreme Court.”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this story.
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