Mitch McConnell warns Joe Biden not to ‘outsource’ Breyer replacement’

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Mitch McConnell warns Joe Biden not to 'outsource' Breyer replacement'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on his retirement Thursday before urging President Biden to pick a replacement who has “demonstrated reverence for the written text of our laws and our Constitution.”

The 83-year-old Breyer formally confirmed his retirement in a letter to Biden, saying he would leave the high court at the end of its current term, provided a replacement has been confirmed.

“Justice Breyer commands respect and affection across the legal world, including from those who disagree with his judicial philosophy and conclusions in cases,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. 

“This respect is rooted in Justice Breyer’s intelligence, rigor and good-faith scholarly engagement. By all accounts, both personally and professionally, he has rendered exemplary service on our nation’s highest Court.”

In recent months, Breyer had come under pressure from progressives to step down from the bench so that Biden could appoint a replacement to shore up the court’s liberal wing.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned Biden not to give associate justice Stephen Breyer's spot to someone on the "radical left."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned Biden not to give Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s spot to someone on the “radical left.”
Grace Ramey/Daily News via AP

“Even in the face of undue criticism from the modern political left, Justice Breyer has remained a principled voice against destructive proposals such as partisan court-packing that would shatter public trust in the rule of law,” McConnell noted. “I congratulate Justice Breyer, his wife Joanna, their children, and their entire family as the Breyers prepare to close this remarkable chapter and begin the next.”

Whoever Biden nominates to replace Breyer will need only 51 votes to be confirmed by the 50-50 Senate, meaning the choice could be approved without any Republican support, providing Vice President Kamala Harris is available to break a tie.

“To the degree that President Biden received a mandate,” McConnell said, “it was to govern from the middle, steward out institutions and unite America.

Sen. Mitch McConnell urged President Biden to pick a replacement who has "demonstrated reverence for the written text of our laws and our Constitution."
Sen. Mitch McConnell urged President Biden to pick a replacement who has “demonstrated reverence for the written text of our laws and our Constitution.”
EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
President Biden said that he will announce his choice before the end of February.
President Biden said he will announce his choice before the end of February.
EPA/YURI GRIPAS / POOL
83-year-old Stephen Breyer formally confirmed his retirement in a letter to Biden, saying he would leave the high court at the end of its current term, provided a replacement has been confirmed.
Justice Stephen Breyer formally confirmed his retirement in a letter to Biden.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

“The president must not outsource this important decision to the radical left,” he added. “The American people deserve a nominee with demonstrated reverence for the written text of our laws and our Constitution.”

Biden has not revealed who is on his nomination shortlist, though he confirmed Thursday that he will nominate the first black woman to the high court

“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 United States Supreme Court,” Biden said. “It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president and I will keep that commitment.”

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces his retirement in the Roosevelt Room on January 27, 2022.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces his retirement in the Roosevelt Room on Jan. 27, 2022.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
shakes hands with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer before Breyer spoke about his coming retirement.
President Biden shakes hands with Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer before Breyer spoke about his coming retirement.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Biden added that he intends to announce his choice before the end of February.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to respond to McConnell at her regular briefing Thursday, saying: “If anyone is saying they plan to characterize whoever he nominates, after thorough consideration with both parties, as radical before they knew literally anything about who she is, they just obliterated their own credibility. So our intention is to not play games.”

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