Wan-Take: Making way for a liberal future

In an increasingly conservative Supreme Court, there comes one change that has the possibility to reset the liberal agenda: the retirement of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. 

Appointed during the Clinton administration, the 83-year-old justice has spent decades on the liberal side of the bench, voting in support of abortion, universal voting rights and immigration. But, why would a man in his position retire and what does this mean for a court with a 6-3 conservative majority? 

Besides the fact that he’s two decades past the retirement age, Breyer did so out of political obligation. As an aging liberal of the court, both Democrats and Moderates have been pushing him to retire throughout the duration of President Joe Biden’s administration—all in hopes of instating a younger, more progressive person of color before the November primaries. While Biden has promised to do so, as demonstrated by his search for a Black woman justice, Breyer’s retirement only proves how biased our court has become, that the foundation of our democracy has turned into the very antithesis of what it was created to be.

But, this shift didn’t start with Biden; it started during the administration of former president Donald Trump. Throughout his four years of presidency, Trump appointed three justices to the Supreme Court, with only Neil Gorsuch being a praised appointment by both sides. The latter two are among the two most controversial appointments in Supreme Court history: Justices Brent Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. 

A circuit court judge with an Ivy League education, Kavanaugh was short-listed for the Supreme Court in July 2018. Within months of this announcement, four women accused Kavanaugh of sexual assualt but only two were deemed as “legitimate.” Following a month-long series of Senate hearings, all charges against Kavanaugh were dismissed and he was appointed a Supreme Court Justice in a close vote of 50-48-1. 

A year later, America was forced to cope with a massive political loss: the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Popular among the American public, Ginsburg commonly defied the status quo of her time, writing in support of same-sex marriage, gender eqaulity and reproductive rights. 

As none of these ideals were ones that Trump was partial to, he quickly rushed for the nomination of Barrett—a strict-constitutionalist and devout Catholic. Not only were her ideals in direct contradiction of Ginsburg, her appointment was extremely rushed and commonly argued about by House and Senate Democrats.

Per the virtue of a democracy, every time an appointment comes close to Election Day, the Senate waits until the next election cycle to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. But, Trump and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell vied to be the exception, confirming Barrett with limited hearings and a close vote of 52-48.

As Chuck Schumer, the former minority, now majority leader of the Senate, stated, to NPR, “There is no escaping this glaring hypocrisy.”

Now, the Supreme Court is headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, an impartial but conservative leaning mediator, and Justice Clarence Thomas—a judge that has threatened to overturn Roe v. Wade and every liberal policy made in the past decade. 

Even with a progressive Black woman added to the stand, the overpowering conservatism of this court is clear. And, if things continue the way they are, every step this country has made to progress forward will be threatened—whether it be abortion, gun control or just basic human rights.