Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told the White House he will officially retire at noon Thursday, clearing the way for Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court.
“This past January, I wrote to inform you of my intent to retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, upon the Court rising for its summer recess,” Breyer wrote to the president on Wednesday. “The Court has announced that tomorrow … it will hand down all remaining opinions ready during this Term. Accordingly, my retirement from active services … will be effective on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at noon.”
Breyer, 83, has served on the court since 1994, when he was nominated by President Bill Clinton. He most recently dissented in the court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which recognized Americans’ constitutional right to abortion.
“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law,” he concluded in his letter.
Jackson was confirmed in April after a contentious confirmation battle, ultimately garnering a vote of 53-47 in the Senate. She will be sworn in at noon Thursday immediately after Breyer’s retirement is official, with Chief Justice John Roberts administering the constitutional oath. Breyer will administer her judicial oath at a ceremony attended by her family.
Jackson clerked for Breyer for the Supreme Court’s 1999-2000 term.
She will be the fourth current female justice on the court and become part of its three-member liberal minority, joining Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.