After 27 years on the court, United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire at the end of of the current term, according to multiple reports.
Breyer's retirement would provide an opportunity for President Joe Biden to nominate a new Supreme Court justice.
This will be the first nomination for the new president.
Breyer was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1994, by then President Bill Clinton replacing retiring Justice Harry Blackmun.
Prior to his nomination he was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 to fill a new seat on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, a role he was in until his confirmation in 1994. Breyer became the chief judge on the first circuit in 1990.
During the Democratic Presidential Primary in 2020, then candidate Joe Biden said that he would appoint a person of colour to the highest court if elected. With the news of Breyer's retirement names of his potential replacement already began to circulate.
Two frontrunners for the position are Judge of theUnited States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court Leondra Kruger.
Jackson began her legal career clerking for Justice Stephen Breyer.
Other names that have been floated as possible replacements are Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, and Judge J. Michelle Childs.
Democrats who currently control the Senate, will need 50+1 votes to pass the nomination. Prior to 2017 the Senate would need 60 votes to approve a judicial nominee. GOP Leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell invoked the nuclear option to remove the Supreme Court from needing 60 votes to approve any Supreme Court Nominee.
This was after Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the bench, and Barack Obama had previously nominated Merrick Garland to the bench in 2016. Garland didn't get a hearing as Senate Republicans refused to take up the nomination in an election year.
There is no date on when the 2021-2022 term would end, but in the past most terms end in April of May of the Calendar year.