Conversations on the Constitution with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer / Photo from the US National Archives

Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement from the US Supreme Court and President Joe Biden will be selecting his replacement, more on the implications later for now let’s talk about who Justice Breyer was. 

Justice Stephen Breyer was nominated to the US Supreme Court in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to replace Justice Harry Blackmum. Prior to his nomination, Breyer was the assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force and served on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. By all accounts Justice Breyer is and always will be associated with the liberal wing of the court. 

Justice Breyer had a very narrow view of the 2nd Amendment and was of constant aid to gun control lobbyists and gun grabbers across the country. In DC V. Heller and in McDonald V. Chicago, Breyer dissent. Both of these cases upheld every American’s right to bear arms and had the cases gone the other way the American landscape would be completely different in regards to firearms and firearm ownership. Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion in McDonald V. Chicago speaks volumes to his opinion on the 2nd Amendment. The opinion reads:

In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self-defense. There has been, and is, no consensus that the right is, or was, “fundamental.” No broader constitutional interest or principle supports legal treatment of that right as fundamental. To the contrary, broader constitutional concerns of an institutional nature argue strongly against that treatment.

Recently during oral arguments for New York State Rifle and Pistol Association V. Bruen, Justice Breyer was on the bench using skewed statistics from gun control groups about gun laws and the right to carry. 

After he announced his retirement, Justice Breyer was thanked by a variety of gun control organizations for his years of service on the bench. John Feinblatt who is the President of Everytown, a major anti-gun lobbying organization, personally thanked Justice Breyer for his service on the bench and said that Justice Breyer has constantly ruled in favor of “reasonable measures to keep Americans safe from gun violence.”

From Everytown:

Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, released the following statements in response to reports that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of this term:

“Justice Breyer has stood up for gun safety throughout his tenure on the court,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “President Biden’s nominee to replace Justice Breyer should also understand that the Second Amendment is fully consistent with common sense gun safety laws.”

“The gun violence prevention movement is grateful for Justice Breyer’s distinguished career and understanding that reasonable gun safety laws are constitutional,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We look forward to President Biden nominating a Black woman to continue this legacy, and we will mobilize our grassroots army of volunteers to ensure the Senate swiftly confirms them.”

Justice Breyer was no fan of the 2nd Amendment and was almost on the court when the 2nd Amendment was completely wiped away by the DC V. Heller case and later the McDonald V. Chicago case. That being said, his retirement is not something that should be celebrated by anyone on the right as Biden is still the President and is selecting his replacement. 

President Biden will undoubtedly choose someone who is more liberal than Breyer in every way possible, one would hope that this wouldn’t mean too much though as the Supreme Court is still under the thumb of a conservative majority. That being said, anything is possible. 

Democrats have previously argued for court packing and considering the racial make-up of Joe Biden’s cabinet there is a real possibility that something like this could be hammered through. There is also the possibility of an untimely end to a conservative Justices tenure on the bench, not a pleasant thought but one that must be considered nonetheless. 

President Biden’s replacement for Justice Breyer will be no ally to the 2nd Amendment and Justice Breyer’s retirement is not something that should be celebrated by anyone on the right.

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