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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says he has not decided when to retire

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is the senior liberal-leaning member of the court, and at least for now he intends to keep it that way.

The 82-years-old jurist has said that he does plan to retire at some point, but in an interview with CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic, Breyer made it clear that he is not quite ready.

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“I asked him directly, ‘Have you decided whether you’re going to retire?’ and he said no, very flatly,” Biskupic told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday.

According to Biskupic, Breyer’s main factor in determining when to call it quits is his health, with the court coming second. With Breyer’s 83rd birthday approaching in August, there are liberals – including some of his own former clerks – who would like to see him step down sooner than later, while Democrats are still in control of the White House and Senate and can easily confirm a young liberal replacement.

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If Republicans retake control of the Senate in 2022 and then Breyer retires, it would put a roadblock in the path of any potential replacement, as they would need to be confirmed by a Senate majority.

Justices serve lifetime appointments, and while some like Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg remained on the court until their deaths, others have opted for retirement. Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped down in 2018, allowing then-President Donald Trump to choose Justice Brett Kavanaugh as his replacement. 

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Breyer had stoked rumors of a possible retirement when he told Slate in December that he plans to “eventually” retire, rather than serve for the rest of his life. 

“It’s hard to know exactly when,” he said at the time.