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Learn the Supreme Courtroom justices’ reactions to Stephen Breyer’s retirement


Hours after Supreme Courtroom Justice Stephen Breyer introduced his impending retirement on the finish of the time period, his colleagues on the bench, each present and former, launched their statements about him. Liberal or conservative, his fellow justices seem to have developed a heat friendship with Breyer over the previous months, years and many years. 

Chief Justice John Roberts praised him as a jurist and welcomed his optimism and advocacy for the rule of legislation. He famous that Breyer additionally enlivened the courtroom’s lunches with discussions of French structure and “a surprisingly complete assortment of riddles and knock-knock jokes.” 

U.S. Supreme Court justices
U.S. Supreme Courtroom justices pose for a bunch portrait on April 23, 2021. Seated from left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor. Standing: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett.

ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP through Getty Pictures


Learn what the justices needed to say beneath.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer is an lively jurist and pricey buddy. He has rendered practically half a century of distinguished public service to our nation, together with 42 years as a federal choose —27 as a Member of this Courtroom. His pragmatism, encyclopedic information, and assorted authorities expertise have enriched the Courtroom’s deliberations. And his fanciful hypotheticals throughout oral argument have befuddled counsel and colleagues alike.

Justice Breyer’s optimism and profound love of nation, expressed by phrase and deed, have impressed numerous others. He’s a tireless and highly effective advocate for the rule of law-in the USA and overseas.

He’s additionally a dependable antidote to useless airtime at our lunches, shifting seamlessly from trendy structure to French cinema, to previous radio reveals, to a surprisingly complete assortment of riddles and knock-knock jokes. He and his spouse Joanna enliven each gathering of the Courtroom household. I sit up for being with Justice Breyer on the bench by the top of the sitting, and Jane and I sit up for seeing him and Joanna typically within the years forward.

Affiliate Justice Clarence Thomas

When Justice Breyer arrived on the Courtroom virtually thirty years in the past, we gained a beautiful colleague. As he retires from lively responsibility on the Courtroom, he and Joanna will all the time be two pricey associates. It has been an absolute pleasure to have spent these years with them, from sitting subsequent to one another on the bench for over twenty-five years to visiting with them in New England. Virginia and I’ll proceed to carry quick to the numerous recollections we’ve got already collected over these a few years and sit up for creating much more with them. Although Justice Breyer’s tenure on the Courtroom attracts to an in depth, our friendship and deep affection redoubles and endures. We lengthen our fondest needs to them within the subsequent part of their lives, and we thank them from the underside of our hearts for being such pleasant and pricey associates whom we love.

Affiliate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

I’ll enormously miss Steve when he leaves the Courtroom. He has been a pleasant colleague-brilliant, erudite, pleasant, good-natured, and humorous. I’ll miss his distinctive questions at argument, his precious contributions at convention, his insightful opinions, his amusing observations at lunch, and our many desirable conversations on a variety of topics. He and Joanna have labored laborious and successfully to advertise a congenial ambiance on the Courtroom. His retirement is a superb loss for us, and I want Steve and Joanna a lot happiness and satisfaction within the subsequent chapter of their lives.

Affiliate Justice Sonia Sotomayor

My pricey buddy, Steve Breyer, is leaving the Courtroom after 42 distinguished years of service to the judiciary and to the nation. I’ll miss him. He’s good, passionate concerning the legislation, and devoted to the Courtroom. He’s humorous, optimistic, and giving. All of us will miss his dedication to in search of consensus and guaranteeing collegiality in all we do. He has served the nation with honor. I want him and his beloved spouse, Dr. Joanna Breyer, a lot pleasure within the years forward. I do know that each of them will proceed to make important contributions to the nation’s wellbeing.

Affiliate Justice Elena Kagan

I am going to miss Steve Breyer each day after he has left the Courtroom. He is an excellent and clever choose whose imaginative and prescient of legislation will stay of nice significance. He’s the very best colleague. He believes in making establishments work; to strengthen this one, he listens to different views with care and generosity, and does every part he can to seek out widespread floor. And he’s the very best buddy. He’s variety and heat and humorous. He has boundless optimism and an excellent coronary heart. I can hardly think about the Courtroom with out him.

Affiliate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch

For greater than 40 years, Justice Breyer has served the Judiciary with integrity and beauty. His deep information of our legislation, its historical past, and our authorities is profound. His good humor is famous. I’ll very a lot miss his wisdom-and his wit-at our convention desk. He and Joanna have been quick associates to Louise and me and we hope to see them typically as associates for a few years to return. We want them and their fantastic household each happiness.

Affiliate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh

I’ll deeply and each day miss Justice Breyer. He has made the Courtroom and America higher. He has been an inspiring presence within the courtroom and convention room, on the lunch desk and in chambers. Steve Breyer is a scholar and gentleman, an unbiased choose and fierce patriot, a person of nice knowledge and humor, a collegial consensus-builder and unfailing optimist. He understands how authorities works for the folks, and he has all the time strived to make it work higher, in a good-faith and nonpartisan method. He has sought to face within the sneakers of others and to grasp their perspective. Ashley and I are very grateful to Joanna and Steve for warmly welcoming us to the Courtroom household 4 years in the past. We sit up for persevering with our friendship with each of them, and we want all of them the most effective as they begin a brand new chapter of their exceptional journey collectively.

Affiliate Justice Amy Coney Barrett

I like Steve Breyer for a lot of causes, not least of which is his judicial temperament. Steve feels passionately concerning the legislation, as his many writings mirror. But his ardour by no means manifests itself in anger. Each in print and in individual, Steve goals to steer by exuberance somewhat than chew. He’s a mannequin of civility. And in my time on the Courtroom, he has additionally grow to be my valued colleague and buddy. I’m grateful for his heat welcome, sage counsel, and humorousness. Joanna, too, has been extremely gracious to each me and my household. Whereas I’ll enormously miss my day-to-day interactions with Steve, I sit up for many extra years of friendship with the Breyers.

Affiliate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (retired)

Although our lessons had been separated by one yr, it was my pleasure to know Stephen Breyer each as a Stanford undergraduate and a Harvard Legislation College scholar. Even in these faculty years, Stephen was recognized and revered for his mind and pleasant outreach. It was no shock that on his coming to our Courtroom, his scholarship and dignity directly impressed us all and drew us shut as associates. For years our Chambers had been subsequent to one another. After we talked concerning the legislation, as we frequently did, his insights had been fascinating as a result of they so typically had been in new dimensions. He was a splendid colleague. Throughout conferences and in his opinions, he remained devoted to demonstrating utmost civility, even when we disagreed. His scholarship, his demeanor, and his dedication to freedom are within the best traditions of the Courtroom and the legislation it should uphold.

Affiliate Justice David H. Souter (retired)

Steve Breyer has been a superlative justice, whose work has proven his excessive intelligence and sound widespread sense. His friendship has enhanced my life.



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