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Though news of his impending retirement was announced in January, Justice Stephen Breyer has now made it official: Thursday, June 30th, will be his last day at the Supreme Court.
Per Fox News:
Breyer, who notified President Biden in January of his intent to retire at the end of the current term, updated the president in a letter Wednesday, after the Supreme Court made it known that it will issue its final opinions of the term Thursday morning.
“The Court has announced that tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m., it will hand down all remaining opinions ready during this Term. Accordingly, my retirement from active service under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 371(b) will be effective on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at noon,” Breyer wrote.
As indicated in Justice Breyer’s letter, the Court will issue the remaining two opinions for its term on Thursday morning. The two remaining cases are Biden v. Texas (regarding the Biden administration’s attempted termination of the Trump era “Remain in Mexico” policy) and West Virginia v. EPA (regarding the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants)
Opinions authored by Justice Breyer this term include:
United States v. Zubaydah – In a 7-2 vote, the courtthe U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and the case for further proceedings, holding that in the context of Zubaydah’s discovery application, the 9th Circuit erred by ruling that state-secrets privilege did not apply to information that could confirm or deny the existence of a CIA detention site in Poland.
Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP – The courtthe decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in a 6-3 ruling and the case for further proceedings, holding that the safe-harbor provision of the Copyright Act of 1976 protects copyright applications that contain inaccurate information due to the applicant’s lack of either legal or factual knowledge. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.
Shurtleff v. City of Boston – In a 9-0 opinion, the courtthe decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit and the case for further proceedings. It held that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment when it denied a group’s application to fly a Christian flag in front of city hall. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the court’s opinion. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion, and Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch wrote opinions concurring in the judgment, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.
Ruan v. United States – The courtthe decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and the cases for further proceedings in a 9-0 ruling, holding that in order for a defendant to be convicted for unauthorized distribution of controlled substances under §841 of the Controlled Substances Act, the government must prove the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the court’s majority opinion. Justice Samuel Alito wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett. Click here for more information about the ruling.
Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety – In a 5-4 ruling, the courtthe decision of the Texas Thirteenth District Court of Appeals and the case for further proceedings, holding that “by ratifying the Constitution, the States agreed their sovereignty would yield to the national power to raise and support the Armed Forces. Congress may exercise this power to authorize private damages suits against nonconsenting States, as in USERRA.” Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. Click here for more information about the ruling.
United States v. Washington – In a unanimous ruling, the courtthe United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s decision and the case for further proceedings, holding that Washington’s law discriminates against the federal government and its contractors on its face and is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause since §3172 does not clearly waive the federal government’s immunity from discriminatory state laws. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion. Click here for more information about the ruling.
Breyer’s replacement, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, will take her seat with the Court when it reconvenes for the October 2022 term. She will become the 116th member of the Court.
Justice Breyer, a Stanford Law grad, joined the Court in 1994 after he was nominated by President Bill Clinton. Breyer is the second-longest serving justice (currently), behind Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined the Court in 1991.
Breyer closed his letter to President Biden with this:
“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law.”