Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was absent from Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. The explanation given was that Breyer, who is 82, skipped the proceedings because of the pandemic. (Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the second and-third-oldest justices, respectively, also gave the inauguration a miss for the same reason.)
Some may have seen this as a sobering reminder of the ever-present dangers of COVID-19. For me, however, there was a big upside: it meant that Breyer had more time to compose his letter of retirement from the court.
The time for Breyer to go is now. Well, technically, the time was Wednesday, the second that Biden put his hand down after being sworn in, but waiting a day is acceptable.
There is no sound reason for Breyer to stay. He is 82 years old. The Democrats now control the Senate and the presidency, but, with a 50-50 tie in the Senate, that situation could change with the flipping of a single seat—and that could happen at any time. (Forgive me if I’m not putting all my chips on a chamber filled with very old people during a vicious pandemic.) We have no idea when a chance for Breyer to be replaced by someone halfway decent will come again, but we do know that if he retires right now, he can be replaced by someone decades younger, secure his legacy, and let everyone breathe a little sigh of relief.
For anyone tempted to say that there’s more time than that—that Breyer seems healthy enough, and that we shouldn’t rush someone with his experience out the door at such a delicate moment—well, you know where I am going with this! Do I even have to spell the three initials out?
It is concerning, therefore, that Breyer appears to have spent Wednesday doing something other than composing his retirement letter. He is still on the court. Stephen! No! Get outta there now! Do what you-know-who didn’t do, and think of the bigger picture for god’s sake.
I’m waiting Stephen!!!