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Justice Stephen Breyer at a talk in 2011

Justice Stephen Breyer at a talk in 2011. | The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Announces His Retirement

January 27, 2022

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Announces His Retirement

Ask Students: Who is Stephen Breyer and what is his background? When was Justice Breyer appointed to the Supreme Court, and by which president?

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Summary

New reports Wednesday indicate Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire, raising questions about his replacement. President Joe Biden said he will wait for Breyer’s formal announcement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited the president’s past words, indicating a desire to appoint America’s first Black woman to the court. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s too soon to comment.

Discussion Questions

  • Who is Stephen Breyer and what is his background?
  • When was Justice Breyer appointed to the Supreme Court, and by which president?
  • What are some notable positions Breyer has taken on key constitutional issues, according to this piece?
  • How did Breyer explain his judicial philosophy?
  • Why is Breyer’s retirement now important for the Biden administration?

Focus Questions

In this piece, Breyer is quoted as saying, “Many of our cases, the most difficult ones, are not about right vs. wrong. They are about right vs. right.” What do you think he means? What does this say about the role of a Supreme Court justice?

Media literacy: Why do you think the producers included so many testimonials about Breyer’s personality and character from people who had worked with him?

Additional Resources

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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