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Justice Stephen Breyer during a group photo at the Supreme Court in April 2021. Photo: Erin Schaff/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told the New York Times in an interview Thursday that he is struggling to decide when to retire but said, "I don't think I’m going to stay there till I die — hope not."

Why it matters: Breyer, the oldest justice at 83 years old, has faced pressure from progressives to retire and allow President Biden to name a liberal-leaning successor to prevent the potential expansion of the court's conservative majority.

While Breyer and the White House have rebuffed those calling for the justice's retirement, he told the Times that the president who will name his successor "will inevitably be in the psychology” of his retirement decision, particularly because of something the late Justice Antonin Scalia told him.

  • "He said, 'I don’t want somebody appointed who will just reverse everything I’ve done for the last 25 years,'" Breyer explained.

Yes, but: Just because justices are appointed and approved by a partisan president and Senate doesn't mean they are obligated to upholding a certain political ideology.

  • Though former President Trump selected Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to solidify a conservative hold on the court, all three have angered conservatives through some of their rulings or by declining to hear certain cases.

What they're saying: “There are a lot of blurred things there, and there are many considerations” with retirement, Breyer said. “They form a whole. I’ll make a decision.”

  • “I don’t like making decisions about myself," he added.

Flashback: Breyer told Axios in March 2020 that he felt healthy and was not thinking about retirement at the time because "I enjoy what I'm doing."

The big picture: Breyer is coming out with a new book, “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics,” next month, in which he discusses the nature of the court’s authority, the distinctions between law and politics and the factors that influence a justice's decision to retire, according to the Times.

Go deeper: Supreme Court blocks Biden's COVID eviction ban

Go deeper

The Supreme Court's abortion showdown arrives

Protesters gather at the Supreme Court during arguments about the Texas abortion law Nov. 1. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will debate today whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, and neither side is trying to lower the stakes — or to make today’s case anything less than a referendum on Roe’s very survival.

The big picture: Conventional wisdom, on both the left and right, says the court is likely to chip away at abortion rights without overturning its precedents outright. But neither side has spent much time trying to help the justices thread that needle.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Dec 2, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

How SCOTUS' ruling on Mississippi abortion case would impact Iowa

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Abortion will remain legal in Iowa if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, but access to nearby abortion clinics may become more difficult for western Iowans.

Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case involving a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

What SCOTUS' docket means for Arkansas

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

A law enacted in 2019 would make abortions illegal in Arkansas if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case involving a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.