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Northwestern Law professors available on Justice Breyer’s retirement

‘He may have learned the lesson of his long-time colleague, Justice Ginsburg,’ says law professor

President Biden is expected to announce Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement tomorrow at the White House. Breyer was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Constitutional law professors from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law are available to comment Breyer’s legacy and what this means for the Court. 

Tonja Jacobi is the Stanford Clinton Sr. and Zylpha Kilbride Clinton Research Professor of Law. Jacobi recently launched ScotusOA, a website dedicated to empirical analysis of Supreme Court oral arguments. She can be reached by contacting Hilary Hurd Anyaso at

 Quote from Professor Jacobi
“Stephen Breyer served on the Supreme Court with a steady moderation and pragmatism. He was a liberal justice who sided with conservatives on some issues, notably criminal justice cases, where he searched for practical solutions to difficult questions. But he was a strong protector of fundamental rights and freedoms. He stood out most for his unusually self-deprecating humor — in an environment that emphasizes hierarchy, he did not mind making jokes about his own technological amateurism or his sometimes-meandering questions at oral argument.  

“He may have learned the lesson of his long-time colleague, Justice Ginsburg, to not leave his retirement too late; though at 83, he had a long and storied term on the Bench.”

Andrew Koppelman is the John Paul Stevens Professor of Law.His scholarship focuses on issues at the intersection of law and political philosophy. He has written more than 100 scholarly articles and seven books, most recently “Gay Rights vs. Religious Liberty? The Unnecessary Conflict,” Oxford University Press, 2020. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Koppelman
“The Supreme Court is already dangerously skewed to the right, and Breyer’s reluctance to retire made the danger worse. This was a good decision. If Ruth Ginsburg had done the same thing early in Obama’s first term, we would be living in a different world.”