Joe Ravi via Wikimedia Commons
Liberal want Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer gone. The problem is, if they get their wish, the court may become more conservative.
The Washington Free Beacon reports:
Advocacy groups and liberal law professors are practically muscling the 82-year-old Clinton appointee off the bench, with memories of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg fresh in mind. The liberal judicial group Demand Justice mounted a billboard that read, “Breyer, retire. It’s time for a Black woman Supreme Court justice,” onto a truck that circled the Supreme Court in April.
With a right-leaning majority in place for the foreseeable future, it’s easy to see why liberals want a young progressive stalwart on the bench. But Breyer’s unique judicial approach makes him an effective emissary to his conservative colleagues, helping the left salvage victory from the brink of defeat in cases big and small. It’s unclear whether his eventual successor will be as effective at building consensus or turning broad questions into narrow ones.
Breyer is not an activist fomenting social revolution through the courts. He is a judicial pragmatist who tries to harmonize the law with reasonable real-world outcomes. He will consider what Congress was up to in a given piece of legislation and how competing interpretations will play out on the ground and then craft a decision that aligns Congress’s purpose and sensible results for all relevant stakeholders. This technocratic mode of judging sometimes presents something appealing for a conservative justice.
Liberals have time and again benefited from this approach. One such example is a workaday case from the 2016 term, City of Miami v. Bank of America, which involved a lawsuit by the city against the bank for predatory lending practices. Miami alleged that Bank of America intentionally targeted minority borrowers for risky home loans. The city claimed the high rates of foreclosure that followed eroded the tax base and forced municipal officials to expend additional resources on policing and code enforcement.
The ability for Breyer to find common ground could be lost, driving the court’s conservatives further right.