Biden vows a Black woman will succeed Stephen Breyer on Supreme Court, aims to make his pick by end of February

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer as they announce Breyer will retire at the end of the court’s current term, at the White House in Washington, January 27, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he intends to announce his Supreme Court nominee to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer by the end of February.

“I have made no choice at this point,” Biden said at the White House. But the president also confirmed that he will follow through on his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the high court.

“I will keep that commitment,” the president said.

In a letter sent earlier Thursday, the 83-year-old justice told Biden he expected to step down when the court begins its summer recess around late June, “assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed” by the Senate.

Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the chamber, which is split 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote.

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“I enormously appreciate the privilege of serving as part of the federal judicial system,” Breyer wrote. “I have found the work challenging and meaningful.”

“My relations with each of my colleagues have been warm and friendly. Throughout I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law,” he wrote.

Breyer, currently the oldest member of the court, is one of three liberal justices on the nine-seat bench. The court’s conservative majority, which includes three members nominated by former President Donald Trump, has shown a willingness to flex its power in a growing list of divisive cultural issues, including abortion, guns, religion and race.

Breyer’s retirement gives Democrats a crucial opportunity to replace one liberal justice with another before the midterm elections, when Republicans hope to regain control of the Senate.


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