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During his remarks on Thursday, President Biden confirmed that a black woman would succeed Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires.
Breyer officially announced retirement and threw a wrench in the plans by demanding his replacement be approved before he retires.
“I am writing to tell you that I have decided to retire from regular active judicial service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and to serve under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 371(b),” Breyer wrote, referring to the statute dealing with retired justices and their ability to continue collecting a salary.
“I intend this decision to take effect when the Court rises for the summer recess this year (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed,” Breyer added in the letter.
Biden went on to say, ‘Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency,’ Biden stated. ‘While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decision except one: the person I will nominate will be someone of extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity.’
‘And that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court.’
Biden called the move ‘long overdue’ and noted that he had made that promise as part of a campaign pledge to garner the endorsement of Congressman Jim Clyburn, the most powerful black legislator in the nation. ‘And I will keep that commitment,’ Biden said.
‘I’m going to invite senators from both parties to offer their ideas and points of view. I’ll also consult with leading scholars and lawyers. And I’m fortunate to have advising me in this selection process, Vice President Kamala Harris,’ Biden went on. ‘She’s an exceptional lawyer, former attorney general of the state of California, former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.’
Biden said he would decide by the end of February.
Democrats could lose control of the Senate after the November midterm elections, so he asked that the Senate move on his choice ‘promptly.’
A letter written by Breyer to Biden on Jan. 27 demands that an individual be lined up as his successor before he steps down.
The letter reads in part:
“I am writing to tell you that I have decided to retire from regular active judicial service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and to serve under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 371(b). I intend this decision to take effect when the Court rises for the summer recess this year (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed.”
Immediately following Biden’s remarks, McConnell pointed out that just a narrow margin exists in the U.S. Senate, where confirmation will be determined and demanded that Biden’s decision reflect the even split for which the country voted.
‘Looking ahead – the American people elected a Senate that is evenly split at 50-50. To the degree that President Biden received a mandate, it was to govern from the middle, steward our institutions, and unite America. The President must not outsource this important decision to the radical left. The American people deserve a nominee with demonstrated reverence for the written text of our laws and our Constitution.’
During the afternoon press briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki seemed to take a swipe at McConnell by praising Republican lawmakers who said they would work with the White House while criticizing those who planned to play ‘games.’
‘We have not mentioned a single name. We have not put out a list. The president made very clear he has not made a selection. And if anyone is saying they plan to characterize whoever he nominates after thorough consideration with both parties as “radical” before they no literally anything about who she is, they just obliterated their own credibility.’
Biden spoke about Breyer from the Roosevelt Room, saying ‘this is sort of a bittersweet day for me,’ remarking how he and Breyer ‘go back a long way, all the way back to the 70s when he first came on the Judiciary Committee.’
‘Today Justice Breyer announces his intention to step down from active service after four decades, four decades on the federal bench and 28 years on the United States Supreme Court,’ Biden said.
In his opening remarks, Biden greeted ‘Dr. Breyer, Joanna, the justice’s wife, and Jill Biden, his wife.
Biden went on to detail Breyer’s public service life, from enlisting in the U.S. Army when he was a teen, and working for ‘all three branches of the federal government before he turned 40.’ During the Watergate scandal, Breyer worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg as well as a prosecutor for the Department of Justice.
‘In 1994, I got to preside as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee over his Supreme Court confirmation hearings,’ Biden recalled.
‘We were joking with one another when he walked in – would we ever think that he would have served decades on the court and I’d be president of the United States the day he came and retired,’ Biden continued.
Immediately after the president spoke, Breyer called his comments “terribly nice.”
During his remarks, Breyer described the U.S. as a ‘complicated country’ with ‘every point of view possible.’
‘And yet they decided to help solve their major differences under law. And when my students get too cynical I say go look at what happens in countries that don’t do that.’
They were later invited to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House by Biden.
‘I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the White House in the Lincoln Bedroom. But I invite both of you to come and stay. The Lincoln Bedroom has against the wall between the windows looking out, a hand-written copy of the Gettysburg Address, written by Lincoln,’ Biden noted. ‘So you’ve got to come and see it and even if you can’t come and stay, bring your grandchildren so they can see it as well.’
During Breyer’s remarks, he noted how he and his wife had paid ‘each of our grandchildren a certain amount of money to memorize the Gettysburg Address.’
Biden announced to the reporters present that he would not be taking questions because it was not ‘appropriate.’