Talking Points

Stephen Breyer needs to retire. Now.

Mitch McConnell all but confirmed his absolutist position

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt Monday morning that it was "highly unlikely" a Republican Senate would confirm a Biden nominee to the Supreme Court in 2024 should the GOP recapture the Senate next year. When asked what would happen if a justice retired in 2023, McConnell more or less confirmed what has been obvious for some time – Democratic presidents will never get to fill a Supreme Court seat while Republicans hold the Senate. "Well, we'd have to wait and see what happens," McConnell told Hewitt.

McConnell's incendiary interview almost seemed designed to prompt 82-year-old Stephen Breyer, one of the Court's three remaining liberals, to retire while Democrats hold a narrow Senate majority. Breyer has publicly resisted pressure from progressive activists to retire, under the delusional pretext that judges are "loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment," and that retiring under such duress will only deepen partisan polarization and the politicization of the Court.

That would be big if true, but only people whose birth certificate says "yesterday" can believe that this Court is apolitical. McConnell invented a farcical new rule to block Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, eight months before the election, and then promptly amended it in 2020 so Republicans could confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the bench just eight days before Joe Biden was elected. Now he's all but saying that he'll not only do it again in 2024, but that Republicans will likely block any Biden nominee, no matter when the vacancy occurs.

Hopefully Breyer is listening – and prepping his retirement announcement while Biden can still fill his seat.