Justice Breyer's Retirement to Take Effect Thursday Associate Justice Stephen Breyer (Evan Vucci/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 29 June 2022 01:15 PM EDT
Justice Stephen Breyer has informed the White House that his last day on the Supreme Court will be Thursday.
Breyer, who in January announced plans to retire, wrote President Joe Biden that "my retirement from active service … will be effective on Thursday, June 30, 2022 at noon."
"It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law," he wrote in his Wednesday letter.
Breyer, 83, has been an associate justice since 1994, when he was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton. Only Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined the high court in 1991, has served longer among its current members.
The Senate on April 7 confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, to replace Breyer. She will become the first Black female justice.
Jackson will join the liberal wing of the 6-3 conservative-dominated court.
She will be the third Black justice, after Thurgood Marshall and Thomas, and the sixth woman.
Jackson will join three other women — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett — meaning that four of the nine justices will be women for the first time.
Breyer authored pivotal rulings bolstering abortion rights and safeguarding a landmark healthcare law while questioning the death penalty during 27 years as a liberal on a bench often dominated by conservatives.
He helped advance LGBT rights, including joining the landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide and the 2020 decision protecting gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination.
In a speech last year, Breyer expressed faith in the court as an institution and defended it against accusations that its rightward shift had rendered it more politicized.
Breyer noted, among other things, that the justices had turned away former President Donald Trump's efforts, based on claims of widespread voting fraud, to overturn his 2020 election loss.
"These considerations convince me that it is wrong to think of the court as another political institution," Breyer said.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.