After nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire, according to multiple reports.
>> PHOTOS: Stephen Breyer through the years
The 83-year-old’s decision was first reported Wednesday by NBC News, which cited “people familiar with his thinking.” Unidentified sources also confirmed Breyer’s decision to CNN, NPR and The Associated Press.
>> Read more trending news
The announcement could come as soon as Thursday, although Breyer plans to remain on the bench until a new Supreme Court nominee is confirmed, according to CNN. White House officials did not immediately confirm the reports.
“It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement posted on social media. “We have no additional details or information to share from (the White House).”
President Joe Biden said told reporters he would have “more to say later” about Breyer’s retirement, adding that the liberal justice justice had yet to officially announce his decision.
“Let him make whatever statement he wants to make and I’m happy to talk about it later,” the president said.
>> Related: Stephen Breyer retirement: How does a Supreme Court justice get confirmed?
Breyer’s retirement will give Biden his first chance to name a justice to the nation’s highest court. During the race for the White House in 2020, Biden said he planned to nominate a Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court if he was given the opportunity.
Among the people likely to be considered for the role are U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, according to NPR. Civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill and U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs are also among the possible nominees, the AP reported.
In a statement obtained by Reuters, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised Breyer for his work on the Supreme Court and vowed that any nominee put forth by Biden “will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed.”
In a series of Twitter posts, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., noted that Democrats have enough votes to confirm Breyer’s replacement without Republican support.
“Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court,” he wrote.
Breyer has served on the Supreme Court since he was appointed to the role by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Before that, he served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit after being appointed to the court in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. He served as chief justice of the court from 1990 to 1994.
Here are some memorable photos of Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer through the years.
1994: U.S. President Bill Clinton and his Supreme Court nominee Stephen Breyer walk to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Monday, May 16, 1994, where the president officially introduced Breyer to the nation.
2003: U.S. Supreme Court Justices (from left, seated) Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, (from left, standing) Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer pose for pictures at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 5, 2003, in Washington, D.C.
2005: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (right) and Henrietta Fore, director of the U.S. Mint, participate in a ceremony to unveil the Chief Justice John Marshall Silver Dollar on May 4, 2005, at the Supreme Court Upper Great Hall in Washington, D.C.
2009: Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (left) talks with Justice Stephen Breyer during the Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary’s forum "Striking the Balance: Fair and Independent Courts in a New Era" at Georgetown University Law Center May 20, 2009, in Washington, D.C.
2010: U.S. Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (left), Stephen Breyer, Vice President Joseph Biden and first lady Michelle Obama smile as President Barack Obama speaks during a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month on May 27, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.
2011: Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 5, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
2012: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer arrives for a lunch hosted in honor of Prime Minister David Cameron at the State Department on March 14, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
2013: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (left) speaks with British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott, England’s Prince Harry and Lady Wesmacott before a reception and dinner at the British Ambassador’s residence on May 9, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
2015: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Patrick Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Dr. Joanna Breyer attend the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate Opening Night Gala and Dedication on March 29, 2015, in Boston.
2016: At center front, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and wife Jane Sullivan Roberts, trailed by Justice Stephen Breyer and wife Joanna Hare and in back row, Justice Clarence Thomas and wife Virginia Thomas, walk down the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at the end of the funeral for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 20, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
2017: Front row from left, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, back row from left, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch pose for a group portrait in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court on June 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
2018: United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer poses for the court’s official portrait in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court building November 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
2020: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (left) and Justice Stephen Breyer stand during a private ceremony for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Supreme Court on September 23, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
2021: Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on April 23, 2021. Seated from left: Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left: Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.