'Deeply flawed': Legal experts warn of potential for McConnell obstruction over Breyer's SCOTUS seat
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer sparked a media firestorm when he announced his retirement on Wednesday, January 26. Now, legal experts and Twitter users are sharing their reactions to the judicial shake-up, and expressing concern about the tactics Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could employ to block Democratic lawmakers from appointing a replacement for Breyer.
Over the last decade, McConnell and Republican lawmakers have adamantly refused to vote on Supreme Court justice nominees from Democratic presidents but wasted no time expediting appointments of judicial nominations from Republican presidents.
Although Biden has more than two years left in his first term, Twitter users believe history will repeat itself if Senate Democrats are not proactive in moving forward with a new Supreme Court nomination.
Legal experts were quick to weigh in with their reactions. In a series of tweets, former federal prosecutor Shannon Wu weighed in to assess the latest developments citing the pros and cons of Breyer's retirement.
"SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement gives President Biden & Democrats first chance in TWELVE years to fill Supreme Court seat even though Democrats have held the Presidency for majority of that time - what's wrong with this picture?" Wu tweeted with the hashtag #ExpandTheCourt as he suggested that judges' terms be limited.
He added, "Watch for 'cult of personality' chatter about potential nominees to replace Justice Breyer. That is what is WRONG with SCOTUS they are a Super Legislature that wields way too much power. No disrespect for whichever woman of color is selected! But SCOTUS structure is deeply flawed."
SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement gives President Biden & Democrats first chance in TWELVE years to fill Supreme Court seat even though Democrats have held the Presidency for majority of that time - what's wrong with this picture? #ExpandTheCourt & limit their terms.— Shanlon Wu (@Shanlon Wu) 1643219346
Watch for "cult of personality" chatter about potential nominees to replace Justice Breyer. That is what is WRONG with SCOTUS they are a Super Legislature that wields way too much power. No disrespect for whichever woman of color is selected! But SCOTUS structure is deeply flawed— Shanlon Wu (@Shanlon Wu) 1643219860
Other legal experts also weighed in on the possible impact of Breyer's retirement. Marc Elias, an attorney and founder of the Democracy Docket, tweeted, "Justice Breyer is retiring from the Supreme Court. We need a strong, pro-democracy pick to protect and expand voting rights and free and fair elections."
Justice Breyer is retiring from the Supreme Court. We need a strong, pro-democracy pick to protect and expand voting rights and free and fair elections.— Marc E. Elias (@Marc E. Elias) 1643217435
"A Biden appointee would not change the court's ideological balance, but would enable him to refresh its liberal wing with a much younger jurist in the lifetime post," Jan Wolfe also tweeted.
A Biden appointee would not change the court's ideological balance, but would enable him to refresh its liberal wing with a much younger jurist in the lifetime post.https://twitter.com/dnlbrns/status/1486382305258221575\u00a0\u2026— Jan Wolfe (@Jan Wolfe) 1643216696
Justice Breyer\u2019s notice of retirement is likely to setup a huge battle in the Senate. McConnell has already said he will do everything he can to obstruct the nomination process. Folks, this is not acceptable. We must insist on a fair nomination process! #SupremeCourt— Jason Minnicozzi (@Jason Minnicozzi) 1643221025
Others also expressed concerns about the actions McConnell could take to stall a Democratic nominee. One user tweeted, "#SCOTUS Justice Breyer announces retirement, giving McConnell only a brief and quaint 3 years to block Biden's nomination and refuse to fill the seat."
Another chimed in tweeting, "McConnell will invent something maybe called the 50/50 rule to say that an evenly split Senate cannot vote on a SCOTUS nominee if the retirement was leaked on a Wednesday in January during an election year. Some s**t like that."
#SCOTUS Justice Breyer announces retirement, giving McConnell only a brief and quaint 3 years to block Biden's nomination and refuse to fill the seat.— Dr. Stephen Caldwell (@Dr. Stephen Caldwell) 1643217655
McConnell will invent something maybe called the 50/50 rule to say that an evenly split Senate cannot vote on a SCOTUS nominee if the retirement was leaked on a Wednesday in January during an election year. Some s**t like that.https://twitter.com/jeremynewberger/status/1486384695436877830\u00a0\u2026— Russell Drew (@Russell Drew) 1643217053
Just saw news blurb that SC Justice Breyer announces retirement from SCOTUS. I know that McConnell will use the filibuster to block a Biden appt. Wonder if the two Agent Provocateurs (i.e. Manchin and Sinema) will help the GOP with this effort to have a 7-2 majority???— Reginald Harmon (@Reginald Harmon) 1643218023
Mitch McConnell on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement, probably: "It would simply be unfair and illogical to pick a new justice this close to a presidential election we're preparing to steal."— Rex Huppke (@Rex Huppke) 1643216785
Mitch McConnell regarding Justice Breyer's retirement.pic.twitter.com/JvhDPJNwgz— WTF Seriously (@WTF Seriously) 1643217730
On the one hand, kudos to Breyer for a reasonably well timed retirement.\n\nOn the other, the way things are going in the Senate so far, I can't help but expect this will still somehow end up with McConnell gleefully celebrating a new obstruction length recordpic.twitter.com/Nxhd2z8LQY— Andrew Weldon | he/him (@Andrew Weldon | he/him) 1643218880
My first thought upon hearing of Justice Breyer's retirement was, "How will McConnell attempt to steal this one?" \n\nHey Mitch, you fucking twit, are we too close to the next presidential election to allow Biden to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice?— Oopsie! (@Oopsie!) 1643219124
Justice Breyer\u2019s retirement reminds us why elections are important. \n\nMcConnell has repeatedly ignored tradition and broken Senate precedent to pack the court.\n\nDemocrats must work together to quickly confirm a Justice who will defend our democracy and protect voting rights.— Luke Mixon (@Luke Mixon) 1643219997
Justice Stephen Breyer announces retirement from the Supreme Court.\n\nA stark reminder that if Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate, a Biden nominee wouldn't even get a hearing. \n\nWe must #ExpandTheMajority in the Senate in 2022\n\n#Fresh #wtpBLUE #ONEV1https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/justice-stephen-breyer-retire-supreme-court-paving-way-biden-appointment-n1288042\u00a0\u2026— LongTime\ud83e\udd13FirstTime\ud83d\udc69\u200d\ud83d\udcbb (@LongTime\ud83e\udd13FirstTime\ud83d\udc69\u200d\ud83d\udcbb) 1643217396
While a new Supreme Court nominee is all but certain to spark a political battle between Democrats and Republicans, an op-ed written by The Washington Post's Neal Katyal, notes one of the strongest qualities about the retiring justice.
In a world of social media gurus and experts, Breyer had the ability to understand the importance of listening and taking the professional expertise and opinion of others into consideration.
"America stands at a crossroads," Katyal noted. "On one path is more toxic extremism, the culmination of which we witnessed on Jan. 6. Despite that armed insurrection, the path remains just as seductive as ever to many."
He concluded, "The other path is quieter and more difficult to practice. It is a path forged by Breyer: respect for others, reverence for the law, and most of all, a commitment to listening to and learning from one another."
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