The news that outgoing Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer had officially set his retirement date paves the way for recently confirmed Kentanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in as his successor.
But when will that be exactly?
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On Wednesday, the soon-to-be 84-year-old Breyer announced that he will be retiring this week.
The announcement from the liberal-leaning Breyer came days after a flurry of controversial Supreme Court rulings in which he was a part of the dissenting opinions.
Breyer wrote a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday to advise him of his plans to step down from the highest court in the United States of America.
Telling the president that the Supreme Court would on Thursday hand down the remaining opinions for the current term, Breyer wrote that he would retire immediately afterward at 12 noon.
“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law,” Breyer concluded the letter by writing.
Notably, Breyer was one of three liberal justices on the Court whose opinions have been drowned out by the largely conservative six other Supreme Court justices, including the three who were successfully nominated by former President Donald Trump. The revamped court last week overturned the Roe. v Wade Supreme Court decision to make abortion unconstitutional. The day before that, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that was expected to make it easier to carry a concealed gun in public. That ruling came amid a national gun violence crisis.
Breyer suggested the decision centered on the Second Amendment was incomplete.
“What about subways, nightclubs, movie theaters and sports stadiums?” Justice Breyer asked in his written dissent. “The court does not say.”
It’s that type of empathetic approach that Jackson, 51, was largely expected to employ once she is sworn in on the Court. However, as shown by these recent rulings, her opinions — which will likely be consistent with those of liberal Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — may not ever be part of the majority opinions so long as the Court is dominated by conservative justices.
As far as when Jackson will get sworn in, that part is immediately unclear.
It was widely reported that she would be sworn in this summer at the conclusion of the current term. That is a timetable that can still be met.
The timing is determined based on when the predecessor vacates their Supreme Court seat.
That means Jackson could be sworn in as soon as next week.
The nearly three months of time since Jackson was confirmed as the first Black Supreme Court justice is much longer than it has typically taken other judges to be sworn in after their successful confirmations.
Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — who were all nominated by Trump — each had their swearing-in ceremonies expedited following their confirmations.
Once Jackson is sworn in, she will officially become the third-ever Black Supreme Court justice, following current Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and the late, great Justice Thurgood Marshall.
This article will be updated as additional information becomes available.
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