Former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has warned colleagues against “writing too hard” opinions, saying such decisions could “bite your back” in an ever-changing world. says there is.
In an extensive interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace on “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace,” which debuts on HBO Max on Friday and airs on CNN Sunday night, Breyer also spoke about his final move in the minority liberal bloc on the court. I lamented my position on the bench for a year. He addressed the court’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade judgment and spoke about the ongoing controversy regarding his wife, Judge Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas.
Breyer said the majority side (conservative – though the retired judge didn’t use that explanation) was unwilling to buck, disputing a number of historically significant cases. Realizing that, he said it was a “very frustrating” position.
In his first television interview since leaving the bench earlier this year, Breyer said, “If you start writing too rigidly, the world will come and bite your back.” And the Supreme Court, though somewhat different, has its fair share of problems of that kind.”
“Life is complicated and life changes,” Breyer added. “And we want to preserve as much as possible – everyone does – we want to preserve certain important moral and political values such as democracy, human rights, equality and the rule of law. If you think you can do it by writing 16 computer programs, I totally disagree.”
Breyer’s comments came days before the Supreme Court began its first term without him in nearly 30 years. In the new term, judges will consider issues such as voting rights, immigration, affirmative action, environmental regulation, and religious freedom. These issues are areas where a staunch conservative majority can easily control the outcome.
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During his final term on the bench, Breyer was frequently in the minority in some of the court’s most headline-grabbing cases, including those involving abortion, gun rights and the environment. He said it was “very frustrating” to be in the minority in such cases, but said he took the loss cautiously.
Breyer was visibly emotional as he weighed in on the court’s controversial ruling in June overturning Roe v. Wade and discussing the historic abortion rights case. .
“And did you say I liked this Dobbs decision? Of course I didn’t. Of course I didn’t,” the retired judge shouted.
“Was I happy with that? Not for a moment. Did I do everything I could to persuade people? Sure, of course. But we were there and now we keep going. We are trying to work together.”
Breyer also condemned the leak of a draft opinion on a decision overturning Low’s judgment earlier this year, saying the unprecedented violation of the court’s protocol was “extremely damaging.”
“Was there an earthquake on the court?” Wallace asked.
“Earthquake?” Breyer replied. “It was very detrimental because things like that rarely happen. It doesn’t happen. And there it is.”
Other judges have also condemned the leak, with Justice Elena Kagan calling it “horrifying” earlier this month, and public opinion in the High Court soured after it happened.
Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an internal investigation shortly after the leaks occurred, and Kagan recently said he expects judges to be given an update on the investigation by the end of September.
During the interview, Breyer was careful not to get caught up in the drama surrounding Ginny Thomas’ political activism.
When asked if he thought Ginny Thomas’ political activism was damaging the court’s standing, Breyer replied: Decisions about how to lead your own life, career, what kind of career, etc. ”
“I’m not going to criticize Ginny Thomas, who I like. I’m not going to criticize Clarence, who I like. And there you are.”
Reflecting on nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, Mr. Breyer flipped the notion that relations between conservative and liberal justices were deteriorating as retirement neared, suggesting that there are now two separate camps on the bench. He admitted that there were “sometimes”
“Less than you think. Less than you think…but I can’t say never,” he said.
Courts, long known for their collegiate system, recently underwent some changes, using the “joyful” conversation that usually takes place at lunch after a judge has considered a case as an example of change, according to Breyer. ing.
“It may not be very funny, but it’s not. I’ve never heard people yelling at each other in anger in that conference room,” he said.
“What you are doing is what I learned from (Judiciary) Arthur Goldberg when he was a legal clerk, and I have tried to live by it. Also, (Ted) Kennedy I learned that from him when I worked for Congress,” Breyer said. “You do your best, and maybe people will agree. And maybe they won’t. And maybe you win. And maybe you lose. And what you do is to think about it for a while.”
“Let’s move on to the next thing so we can do a decent job on the next thing,” he added. “And just keep going.”
Breyer, who announced plans to retire amid pressure from liberals while Democrats dominated the Senate and President Joe Biden was in office, said he decided to step down because he feared Republicans would dominate the House. rice field. He was forced to stay on the bench for years while the Republican Party blocked presidential candidates.
“There was a delay when the party split between Senate control and presidential control,” Breyer said. “And sometimes, after a long time, I hope my own retirement, my own court membership, doesn’t get involved in what I call purely political issues.”