Stephen Breyer: SCOTUS judges not 'political' in my experience

(NewsNation) — After publishing a book this year titled “Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, not Textualism,” former Justice Stephen Breyer took time to talk with NewsNation and reflect on his many years in the Supreme Court.

In a wide-ranging interview, Breyer talked about the role politics played in his decision to retire in 2022.

Breyer said there were other factors as well, including the fact that he had been the oldest member of the country’s highest court and the most senior member of its current three-member liberal wing.

“I was about 83 years old,” he explained. “I hate to tell you, that is the problem with old age — you get older.”

Breyer figured he was “going to have to leave in a year or two anyway, no matter what.”

“Who knows what the world will be like then?” Breyer said he thought at the time.

When asked what he thinks when critics say that judges on the Supreme Court are politically motivated, Breyer disagrees.

“I think ‘political’ is a tough word and not the right word,” he said. “You’re there to decide the cases under law.”

In the 40 years Breyer served on the bench, many of them on the Supreme Court, he said he’s never seen justices try to help their own political agendas.

“I can’t say that they do that. I don’t think they do, and I can draw on my own experience,” Breyer said. “I can’t guarantee nobody ever does that, right? But that’s just not the way it works.”

With so many differing opinions on the Supreme Court, some may assume justices don’t get along. While Breyer says they may not all be best friends, they are professionals with a “difficult job” who are able to put personal differences aside.

“There’s no point letting personal differences creep into decisions that are making a difference to the lives of the people,” Breyer said.

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