Justice Stephen Breyer, the Supreme Court's oldest member, told CNN he has not decided when to retire from the bench.
Progressives and some other Democrats have encouraged Breyer to step down so President Joe Biden can name a younger liberal judge to the court while their party holds a slim control of the Senate.
When asked by CNN whether he had decided when to retire, Breyer said, "No."
Breyer, nominated to his position by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, said two factors will determine his decision.
"Primarily, of course, health," Breyer told CNN. "Second, the court."
Many Supreme Court watchers have kept eyes on the Court to see if Breyer, who’ll turn 83 in August, would make an announcement during July’s first week when justices released their final opinions of the term.
Conservatives currently hold a 6-3 advantage over liberals on the Supreme Court bench. A new Biden appointee would not change the court’s ideological division, but Democrats are worried that losing Senate control in the 2022 midterm elections could lead to an even more right-leaning court.
During an interview with CNN in Plainfield, New Hampshire, Breyer would not offer details about the timing of a retirement decision. He did discuss the factors that would influence him.
Following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last year, Breyer has become the Court’s ranking liberal – a status he seems to relish.
Breeyer's new seniority in the justices' private discussion over cases "has made a difference to me," he told CNN. "It is not a fight. It is not sarcasm. It is deliberation."
When the nine justices privately meet in "conference" to decide how to vote on cases, Chief Justice John Roberts speaks first, giving his thoughts about a case and casting his vote.
Justice Clarence Thomas, a court member for 30 years, follows Roberts.
Breyer goes next, the first liberal to have a shot at influencing a case and decision.
"You have to figure out what you're going to say in conference to a greater extent, to get it across simply," Breyer said. "You have to be flexible, hear other people, and be prepared to modify your views. But that doesn't mean [going in with] a blank mind."
Breyer and his fellow associate justices on the left dissented forcefully when the court's six conservatives voted together recently to curtail the reach of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, restrict regulation of big political donors, and lessen union power to organize on agricultural land.
Breyer, however, often remarks that he considers dissents "a failure," and has aimed for common ground, according to CNN.
In fact, Breyer and Justice Elena Kagan, a 2010 appointee of President Barack Obama, have been the two liberal judges most likely to try and build a consensus.
CNN said that when the court rules in the familiar 6-3 conservative-liberal pattern, Breyer has the power to assign the opinion for that left wing.
He told CNN his goal is to fairly distribute dissents in prominent cases among himself, Kagan, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the third liberal.
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