He can do the math.

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Getty Images North America

Friends, Romans, countrymen, law professors: Please stop telling Justice Stephen Breyer to retire. Yes, Breyer is a (healthy) 82. Yes, the Democratic Senate majority is wafer-thin, and it would likely be impossible for President Joe Biden to replace Breyer with another liberal if the Democrats lose even one of their 50 votes in the Senate.

But here’s the thing: Breyer knows these facts already. He is the one of the great pragmatist justices ever to have sat on the Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of Justice Louis Brandeis. Breyer also knows Capitol Hill, having worked there three separate times: once on the Watergate investigation and twice for the Senate Judiciary Committee. He can be trusted to do the right thing – provided liberal law professors don’t box him in by declaring that he “must” resign.

To understand Breyer’s thinking about retirement, we can begin by considering his worldview and jurisprudence — as well as his writing about the court, its function, and how it is viewed.

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