Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer officially announced his retirement on Thursday.
In a letter sent to the White House, Breyer said he would be retiring in the summer during the Court’s recess.
“I enormously appreciate the privilege as serving as part of the federal judicial system — nearly 14 years as a Court of Appeals Judge and nearly 28 years as a Member of the Supreme Court,” Breyer wrote. “I have found the work challenging and meaningful. My relations with each of my colleagues has been warm and friendly. Throughout, I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in an effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law.”
Speaking at the White House on Thursday with Breyer by his side, Biden expressed his “gratitude” for the justice.
“I’m very proud to be here today on the announcement of his retirement,” Biden said.
Breyer has served “as a beacon of wisdom to our Constitution and what it means,” Biden added. “And through it all, Justice Breyer worked tirelessly to give faith to the notion that the law exists to help people.”
Multiple outlets first reported Wednesday that Breyer planned to step down, paving the way for the president to pick a new justice. Breyer, 83, is the oldest justice on the nation’s highest court, and he has held the position since President Bill Clinton nominated him in 1994.
Biden said on Thursday that his pick to replace Breyer — which he said will be decided by the end of February ― will be a Black woman, a promise he first made on the presidential campaign trail.
“I’ve been studying candidates’ background and writings, but I’ve made no decision except one: The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary quality, character and experience of integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court,” the president said.
During just his first year in office, Biden appointed three Black women to the U.S. Court of Appeals — more than than nearly any other president in history, as Clinton appointed the same number of Black women during one four-year term. Biden nominated another Black woman for the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this month, but she has not been confirmed yet.