Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer joked in an interview Sunday that term limits would “make life easier” for him amid calls from progressives to retire so President Biden and Democratic-controlled Senate can fill the lifetime post.
Breyer, 83, was asked by Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” about the possibility of setting 18-year terms instead of life terms on the bench.
“I think you could do that. It should be a very long term because you don’t want the judge who’s holding that term to start thinking about his next job. But it would make life easier for me,” the 27-year high court veteran said, smiling.
Asked about Democrats urging him to retire while the party holds a majority in the Senate so his successor could be confirmed, Breyer said “they’re entitled to their opinion.”
“I think they — and not only do they understand the political world much better than I – or they understand it pretty well. And there we are. What else do you want me to say?” the justice said.
Breyer said there are “many factors” he’s considering when it comes to retiring.
“And the role of court and so forth is one of them,” he said. “And the situation, the institutional considerations are some. And I believe, I can’t say I take anything perfectly into account, but in my own mind, I think about those things.”
Later, he reiterated, “I don’t intend to die on the court. I don’t think I’ll be there forever.”
In the interview, Breyer also cautioned about Democrats mulling increasing the number of justices on the court now that former President Donald Trump nominated three of them, tipping the court to a 6-3 conservative majority.
“Well, if one party could do it, I guess another party could do it,” he said. “On the surface, it seems to me you start changing all these things around and people will lose trust in the court.”