Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is warning its colleagues against “writing too hard” in their opinions, saying such decisions could “bite you in the back” in an ever-changing world.
In an extensive interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace on “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace,” which premieres Friday on HBOMax and airs Sunday night on CNN, Breyer also lamented his position in the industry. minority liberal block of courts in his last year on the bench, mentioned the court overturning the Roe v. Wade case and talked about what’s going on the Ginni Thomas controversy, Wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.
Breyer says it’s a “very frustrating” point as he finds himself dissenting in a number of historically consequential cases where he says the majority (conservatives – although retired justice do not) use that description) don’t want to bend.
“You start writing too rigidly and you see, the world will turn around and bite you in the back,” Breyer said in his first TV interview since leaving the bench earlier this year. “Because you will see what you see as useless. And Supreme Courtsomewhat compared to the difference of others, there is that kind of problem in the short term. ”
Breyer added: “Life is complicated, life is always changing. “And we want to uphold as far as possible – everyone does – certain important moral and political values: democracy, human rights, equality, the rule of law, etc. To try to make that happen. that in an ever-changing world. If you think you can do it by writing 16 computer programs – I just disagree.
The comments from Breyer come days before the Supreme Court begins its first term without him in nearly 30 years. In the new term, the judges will consider issues including voting rights, immigration, affirmative action, environmental regulations and religious freedom – areas where the conservative majority holds firm. the results can be easily controlled.
During his final tenure on the helm, Breyer regularly took a minority on some of the court’s most sensational cases, including those involving abortion, gun rights and the environment. school. He told Wallace that being in the minority in those cases was “very frustrating,” but said he suffered losses in the process.
Breyer weighed in on the court’s controversial decision in June to reverse Roe v. Wade, visibly emotional as he discussed the historic abortion rights case.
“And you say I like this Dobbs decision? Of course I didn’t. Of course I didn’t,” said the retired justice, his voice rising.
“Am I happy about it? Not for a moment. Did I do everything to convince people? Of course. But we were there and now we move on. We try to work together.”
Breyer also condemned the leak earlier this year of a draft opinion on the decision to overturn Roe’s decision, saying the unprecedented breach of court rule was “very harmful.” .
“Is there an earthquake inside the court?” Wallace asked.
“An earthquake?” Breyer replied. “It’s disastrous because that didn’t happen. It just didn’t happen. And there we are. ”
Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an internal investigation into the leak shortly after it happened, and Kagan recently said that she expects judges to receive an update on the investigation by the end of September.
Breyer was careful in his interview not to wade in TV series around the politics of Ginni Thomas, The supporter of the effort to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election defeat came under close scrutiny as her husband became involved in a Supreme Court case related to the House of Representatives Jan. .
When asked if he thought Ginni Thomas’s political activity was damaging to the position of the court, Breyer replied: “I don’t get it in that I really believe that women are wives, including the wives of Supreme Court justices, have to decide on how to lead their lives, careers, type of profession, etc. for themselves. ”
He added: “I’m not going to criticize Ginni Thomas, who I like. I won’t criticize Clarence, who I like. And there we are. ”
Reflecting on his nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, Breyer tiptoed around the idea that the relationship between conservative and liberal justices had soured as he neared retirement, admitting that ” sometimes” seems to have two distinct factions on the bench.
“Less than you think. Less than you think… but I can’t say never,” he said.
Breyer said that the court, yes has long been known for its collectivism, changed some late, using the “pleasant” conversations that often occur between judges at lunch after they weigh in on a case as an example of a shift.
“Perhaps a little less cheerful, but it’s not – I haven’t heard people in that conference room shouting at each other out of anger,” he said.
“What you do is what I learned from (Justice) Arthur Goldberg when I was his law clerk, and I’ve tried to live up to that. And I also learned that from Senator (Ted) Kennedy, when I worked for him,” Breyer said. “You do your best, you know, and maybe everyone will agree. And maybe they don’t. And maybe you will win. And maybe you will lose. And then what you do is you think about it for a while. ”
“Let’s move on to the next thing, so you can do the next job well,” he added. “And just keep going.”
Breyer, who announced his retirement plans amid pressure from liberals wanting him to leave the court while Democrats control the Senate and President Joe Biden in office, said he decided to leave now out of concern that if Republicans take over the room, he could be forced to sit on the bench for years while the GOP blocks the Presidential candidacy.
“There have been delays, as the party is split between control of the Senate and control of the president,” Breyer said. “And sometimes, time flies and I want that my own retirement, my own membership on the court, not to get involved in what I call purely political matters. ”