Gov. Gavin Newsom, a California senator and others reacted this week to reports that U.S. Supreme Court Justice and San Francisco native Stephen Breyer is planning to retire from the bench.
The retirement of Breyer, who has served on the Supreme Court since 1994, would open a seat on the nine-judge bench for appointment by President Joe Biden.
Newsom thanked the alumnus of Lowell High School and Stanford University for bringing “core California values to our nation’s highest court throughout his distinguished tenure, shaping impactful decisions to strengthen our democracy and change lives for the better.”
The governor cited Breyer’s critiques of the nation’s death penalty system — Newsom has suspended the use of capital punishment in California during his tenure — as one of the ways he contributed to the cause of criminal justice reform.
Breyer, before serving on the court’s highest panel of judges, was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, served as special counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1974-75 and as a prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973, among various positions.
U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, said Breyer “has demonstrated his commitment to justice, fairness, and equality under law time and time again.”
The alumni association from Breyer’s alma mater in San Francisco also weighed in on the reports of his retirement.
Lowell Alumni Association president Kate Lazarus said, “The Lowell Alumni Association congratulates Justice Stephen Breyer, Lowell High School class of 1955, on an exemplary career in public service. He is an inspiration to countless Lowell alumni and San Franciscans. We are immensely grateful and proud of his long commitment to justice, fairness, and the rule of law.”