Retire

Is Justice Stephen Breyer Going to Retire? – The Atlantic

Summary

In 2013, Barack Obama hosted Ruth Bader Ginsburg for lunch in his private dining room, hoping to gingerly raise the possibility of her retirement while he still occupied the White House and Democrats still controlled the Senate.

She got the message. She also ignored it. Ginsburg didn’t suffer much of a reputational hit for her defiance, at least not at the time. The woman who’d been barred from one of the read…….

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In 2013, Barack Obama hosted Ruth Bader Ginsburg for lunch in his private dining room, hoping to gingerly raise the possibility of her retirement while he still occupied the White House and Democrats still controlled the Senate.

She got the message. She also ignored it. Ginsburg didn’t suffer much of a reputational hit for her defiance, at least not at the time. The woman who’d been barred from one of the reading rooms at Harvard Law when she was a student, the woman who’d been denied a clerkship with Felix Frankfurter partly because she was a mother—of course she wasn’t going to daintily hang up her jabot just because the boys were telling her to. For years, she’d stood outside the doors of their institutions with an ice pick, chip-chip-chipping her way in. She’d bested three types of cancer. She did daily sets of planks. And now they were telling her it was time to go? Really?

In hindsight, we know that this decision had catastrophic consequences for the causes to which she devoted her career. RBG—Washington’s least likely crossover star, a super-signifier of all things fabulously feminist and liberal—may, with time, inadvertently live up to the Notorious appended to her name, in spite of her extraordinary accomplishments.

Which brings us to Justice Stephen Breyer.

At 83, he has not announced his retirement. Even though he finds himself in the functional equivalent of that Obama-Ginsburg moment in 2013, with a Democrat in the White House and Democrats in control of the Senate. Even though Joe Biden’s approval rating is at 41 percent. Even though Democrats just lost the governor’s mansion in one blue state (Virginia) and barely held on to it in another (New Jersey). Even though congressional Democrats are currently careening toward a 2022 midterm wipeout, with Republicans testing better on generic ballots than they have in 40 years.

Two years ago, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a dean at the Yale School of Management and the author of The Hero’s Farewell, memorably told me that when CEOs manage to retire in a timely fashion, it’s frequently because they have a negative role model in mind, an uneasy memory of some muckety-muck who grossly overstayed his or her welcome.

So why on earth hasn’t Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as a cautionary tale?

Only Breyer can say, of course. For all we know, she has served such a role, and he simply hasn’t yet announced his plans to retire by the end of June, when the Court typically goes into recess. (My money is on this option, actually—…….

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/justice-breyer-retire/620734/