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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire Thursday


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks during an event on the Library of Congress for the 2022 Supreme Court Fellows Program hosted by the Law Library of Congress, in Washington, February 17, 2022.

Evan Vucci | Pool | Reuters

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told President Joe Biden that he’ll officially retire at noon Thursday, hours after the court is about to release the last two rulings of its current term.

Breyer’s letter to Biden was expected, because the 83-year-old justice said in January that he would go away at the tip of its term. It was only Wednesday morning that the court said that Thursday could be the last day for opinions to be released.

He can be replaced by Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, who currently is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Her nomination to the Supreme Court as the primary Black woman to function a justice was confirmed by the Senate in April.

It was not immediately clear when Jackson could be sworn in as a justice.

“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the hassle to keep up our Structure and the Rule of Law,” Breyer told Biden within the letter dated Wednesday.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson smiles as Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event celebrating her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court on the South Lawn of the White House on April 8, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Breyer, who’s considered one of just three liberal justices on the nine-member Supreme Court, has served there since 1994, after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. Jackson is anticipated to vote with the court’s other liberals, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, more often than she is with the court’s six conservatives.

Breyer’s departure will come six days after the Supreme Court, in a serious ruling, overturned its 1973 decision within the case Roe v. Wade, which established that there was a federal right to abortion.

He joined the court’s two other liberals in a scathing dissent to Friday’s decision, which supplies individual states wide leeway in banning abortion outright, severely limiting termination of pregnancies or making abortion legal.

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Also last week, Breyer wrote a pointed dissent to a ruling by the court’s supermajority of six justices, which struck down a Recent York state law requiring applicants for a license to hold a gun outside of their homes to have a “proper cause” to accomplish that, saying it violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Structure.

“Many States have tried to deal with a number of the dangers of gun violence just described by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of various kinds,” Breyer wrote. “The Court today severely burdens States’ efforts to accomplish that.”

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