Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring after nearly three decades on the bench, giving President Biden a chance to fulfill a campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman in history to serve on the high court. Those worried that identity politics will hinder the most qualified candidate should consider that 108 of 115 justices since the nation’s founding have been white men, says Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for The Nation.
Breyer’s retirement comes as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to stall any nominations that Biden put forth later in the year. Breyer leaves “an institution that I think he really idealized as beyond politics, and at the same time, it’s so, so clear that politics drove him out right now,” says Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and senior legal correspondent for Slate, who has interviewed Breyer.
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