New York Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that she’s inclined to agree with calls for liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to step down in the near future to allow President Joe Biden to choose Justice Breyer’s replacement.
“You know, it’s something I think about, but I would probably lean towards yes," Ms Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Sunday when asked if Justice Breyer should retire at the end of this Supreme Court term. “I would give more thought to it, but I’m inclined to say yes.”
At least one other Democratic House member has called for Justice Breyer to retire.
“There’s no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term,” fellow New York Rep Mondaire Jones told Cheddar in mid-April.
Justice Breyer has previously declined to speak about his possible retirement, but in a speech earlier this year, he argued against expanding the Supreme Court beyond its current nine members.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez told CNN that she believes the Democrats “should protect our Supreme Court and that (Breyer’s possible retirement) should absolutely be a consideration” if the Senate cannot pass government, ethics and election legislation previously passed by the House.
Some Democrats, such as Ms Ocasio-Cortez and Mr Jones, are worried that if Justice Breyer doesn’t retire soon, Mr Biden may lose his chance at replacing him with a younger liberal justice and that that opportunity may fall to a future Republican president.
The death of women’s rights icon and liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020 was a huge blow to Democrats and progressives as it gave former President Donald Trump the chance to pick young conservative Amy Coney Barrett, 49, to replace her on the nation’s highest court.
Justice Ginsburg faced some calls for her to retire during the presidency of Barack Obama. Her death facilitated the appointment of Mr Trump’s third Justice to the Supreme Court after Mr Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia, now-Attorney General Merrick Garland, was denied as much as a hearing by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016.
“We have had very difficult experiences with making, I believe, the opposite mistake,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to liberal justices staying in their posts and being replaced by Republican presidents.
Mr Jones and Ms Ocasio-Cortez are among 25 House Democrats who co-sponsored a bill that would add four seats to the Supreme Court. Republicans strongly oppose the legislation and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she has no plans to bring it to the floor for a vote.
The Democrats pushing for the bill say it would “restore balance” to the Supreme Court after Republicans have taken “norm-breaking actions” to reach its current makeup.