Breyer, a Harvard Law alumnus who also taught at the school, is the court’s oldest judge at 82. The election of President Joe Biden and the paper-thin Senate Democratic majority have sparked talks that Breyer, who was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1994, may soon retire this summer.
Although he has not said anything publicly about his plans, the speech could be read as a sort of farewell speech filled with calls for the public to view the judges as more than “junior league politicians”.
For example, he found that despite the court’s conservative majority last year, the court did not participate in the 2020 election, gave Louisiana abortion clinics a victory, and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to provide legal protection for immigrants Declined to quit as children brought to the US.
Trump appointed three judges to the court, the last of whom, Amy Coney Barrett, replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg in October.
Breyer acknowledged that other decisions were made with conservative views.
“These considerations convince me that it is wrong to see the court as a different political institution,” he said.
Breyer’s speech was part of Harvard’s Scalia Lecture Series, named after the late Judge Antonin Scalia. Breyer and Scalia were fellow court members for more than two decades.