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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire at Critical Moment for Our Nation

Next Nominee Should Be Committed to Securing Equal Justice Under the Law

Following 27 years of service on our nation’s highest court, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he will retire at the end of the current term according to people familiar with his thinking. Justice Breyer was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1994. Previously, he served as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for fourteen years.

Justice Breyer’s nearly three-decade career on the Supreme Court includes many notable opinions in civil rights cases, including the Lawyers’ Committee’s case Young v. Fordice, which prevented Mississippi from instituting a dual voter registration system that would have disproportionately impacted voters of color, and in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, which allowed Texas to deny a Confederate group the ability to create a specialty license plate that included a Confederate flag design.

The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“We thank Justice Breyer for his decades of service on the Court and to the American public. His retirement and the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice comes at a critical moment for our country as we contend with a nationwide fight for civil rights, including protecting the fundamental right to vote. The nominee to succeed him must be committed to securing equal justice under the law, including fair reading of constitutional provisions, federal statutes, and regulations that have bearing on critical civil rights statutes. We urge President Biden to select a nominee with exceptional qualifications who will follow the rule of law, and to make true on his campaign promise to select the nation’s first Black female justice to serve on the Supreme Court. Our nation’s judiciary, including its highest court, must be representative of our nation’s demographics.

“Right now, we have an opportune moment to expand the racial and gender diversity of the court. Once a nomination has been made, the Senate must take its constitutionally-mandated advice and consent role seriously, and carefully evaluate the nominee’s full record without engaging in partisan games. Any gamesmanship or efforts to obstruct this nomination for political gain must not be tolerated.”



The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today.

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