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Tipsheet

Stephen Breyer's Post-Retirement Plans Revealed

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Last Friday, Harvard Law School announced that Stephen Breyer was returning to the law school to be part of the faculty, effective immediately. It was announced in January that the former justice, who left the U.S. Supreme Court on June 30, would retire at the end of the most recent term, though that announcement had been leaked. Breyer, is now the Byrne Professor of Administrative Law. He also graduated from the law school and previously taught there.

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According to Harvard Law Today:

Justice Breyer will teach seminars and reading groups, continue to write books and produce scholarship, and participate in the intellectual life of the school and in the broader Harvard community.

Justice Breyer said: “I am very pleased to return to Harvard to teach there and to write. Among other things, I will likely try to explain why I believe it important that the next generations of those associated with the law engage in work, and take approaches to law, that help the great American constitutional experiment work effectively for the American people.”

That Breyer, who turns 84 next month, is taking on another position rather than enjoying some downtime during his retirement has once again called to mind the aggressive pressure campaign from those who sought to force him into retirement. 

Breyer had faced incessant pressure to retire from far-left groups also looking to pack the Court, most prominently from Demand Justice. Those issuing such calls wanted to make it clear that President Joe Biden was able to name his replacement, especially after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020, leaving then President Donald Trump to replace her with Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

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An MSNBC op-ed from Chris Geidner published late last December lamented how "Justice Stephen Breyer resisting retirement depresses Democrats and excites the GOP." It was later updated on January 26 with the news from that day.

A lengthy report on January 26 from The Washington highlighted further details for "Inside the campaign to pressure Justice Stephen Breyer to retire."

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That same day, NPR acknowledged that Breyer faced "pretty significant" pressure to retire. 

On February 1, Slate published "Why Breyer Had 'No Choice but to Retire at This Point.'"

It was revealed on January 26, that the justice was retiring, though Breyer was robbed of making that announcement public himself, which he did on January 27. Katie later covered how it appears to be White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain who leaked the news.

Breyer was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1994 to replace the late Justice Harry Blackmun. He was replaced by Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated by Biden to fulfill his campaign promise of nominating a replacement based on her being the first black female to be nominated and serve on the Court. She was confirmed in April by the U.S. Senate in a vote of 53-47. 

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