When President Joe Biden got the news that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was retiring, his reaction was extremely awkward to say the least.
“Every justice has the right and opportunity to decide what he or she is going to do, and announce it on their own,” he eventually said. “There’s been no announcement from Justice Breyer. Make whatever statement he’s going to make. I’ll be happy to talk about it later.”
There are plenty of rumors flying about what Justice Breyer’s retirement ultimately means. But at the end of the day, the Democrats will spend a high degree of political capital replacing a non-originalist judge with a non-originalist judge on the left-wing of the current court.
It is all but a given that this failed administration will nominate an ideological partisan hack in the mold of Justice Sotomayor, but that will require putting moderate Democrat senators Manchin and Sinema in the position of once again being called to vote for a radical agenda. They are both likely to fold, but they will be less likely to green-light anything but a watered-down version of Build Back Better.
Republican voters will also be more motivated by the Supreme Court nomination process than will Democrats on the whole. Since this is a fait accompli for the Democrat Party to eventually push through their nominee of choice, selecting a mouth-breathing progressive flamethrower can only come back to burn Democrats.
Joe Biden will thus seem to have gotten a small “victory” with the retirement of Justice Breyer. But it’s nothing but catnip for his progressive base. It ultimately won’t make inflation go away, nor will it end the Covid crisis-mongering, nor will it stop Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Biden can gloat all he wants to about Breyer’s retirement, but it doesn’t change his fundamentally failed presidency.