Breyer’s retirement from Supreme Court to take effect at noon on Thursday

Stephen Breyer
FILE – Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer listens during a forum at the French Cultural Center in Boston, Feb. 13, 2017. Breyer is retiring, giving President Joe Biden an opening he has pledged to fill by naming the first Black woman to the high court, two sources told The Associated Press Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Justice Stephen Breyer will officially retire from the Supreme Court on Thursday at noon, he told President Biden in a letter, bringing his nearly 28-year tenure on the court to an end and paving the way for Ketanji Brown Jackson to take his place on the bench.

Breyer, 83, is leaving the Supreme Court at the end of a term that has seen no shortage of blockbuster cases, the most consequential of which was its decision Friday to overrule Roe v. Wade, as well as rulings expanding gun rights for the first time in a decade and in favor of religious rights.

The court will announce its two remaining opinions — the first, a dispute over the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and the second, a challenge to the Biden administration’s attempt to end the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy — on Thursday morning and then recess for the summer.

“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law,” Breyer told Mr. Biden in his letter Wednesday.

Jackson, Breyer’s replacement, is a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington who clerked for the retiring justice. The Senate confirmed Jackson to in a bipartisan vote in April. She will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Breyer told the president that he understands Jackson “is prepared to take the prescribed oaths to begin her service as the 116th member of this court.” It’s unclear when she will take constitutional and judicial oaths required by justices before they can begin their duties.

Appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, Breyer announced in January his plans to step down at the end of the term, giving Mr. Biden the opportunity to make his first appointment to the high court. The president announced Jackson as his nominee in late February, and the Senate approved her nomination less than two months later.

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