Retired SCOTUS Justice Sounds the Alarm About the Court

Retired SCOTUS Justice Sounds the Alarm About the Court

Retired Associate Justice Stephen Breyer argues that "The Supreme Court is headed in the wrong direction."

In a forthcoming book and during an interview with The New York Times on Monday, the 85-year-old liberal criticized the three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, expressed disapproval of the decision reversing Roe v. Wade, and made comments disparaging the U.S. Constitution.

According to The Times, Breyer, who served nearly 26 years on the bench after being nominated by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994, discussed his views in "Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism." He criticized the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which returned the abortion issue to the states, stating, "The Dobbs majority’s hope that legislatures and not courts will decide the abortion question will not be realized."

Regarding the repeal of Roe v. Wade, Breyer raised concerns about the legality of abortion in states that permit it and those with restrictions. He questioned, "Are they really going to allow women to die on the table because they won’t allow an abortion which would save her life?"

Speaking broadly about the court he left in 2022, Breyer commented, "Something important is going on." He suggested that the court "has taken a wrong turn" and added, "it is not too late to turn back."

Breyer also addressed the approach of the three justices appointed by President Donald J. Trump—Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—calling on them to reconsider their stance.

In his book, Breyer noted that "major cases have come before the court while several new justices have spent only two or three years at the court." He emphasized the importance of time for new justices to decide how they want to shape the law, mentioning the concepts of textualism and originalism.

While textualists and originalists focus on historical meanings of words and principles, Breyer favors "pragmatism," which considers practical consequences and societal values.

Reflecting on the Constitution, Breyer mentioned that "half the country wasn’t represented in the political process that led to the document." Despite criticizing the court, he clarified that he does not believe its newer members are deciding cases based solely on partisan politics.

Breyer, now teaching at Harvard Law School, expressed his fondness for being a judge, noting the impact of judicial decisions on the present and future.

His book is set to be released on March 26.

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