Breyer hears last case as Supreme Court justice

After 28 years on the bench, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has heard his last case, according to The Hill.

The Democrat-appointed justice’s final case involved a dispute between Oklahoma and tribal authorities involving the prosecution of crimes involving Native American victims and non-Native American defendants.

The 83-year-old liberal justice, the outlet said, “posed sharp questions” in his last set of oral arguments on Wednesday.

After the arguments were concluded, Chief Justice John Roberts paid tribute to Breyer’s more than quarter-century on the bench.

“For 28 years, this has been his arena for remarks profound and moving, questions challenging and insightful, and hypotheticals downright silly,” Roberts said.

“For now, we leave the courtroom with deep appreciation for the privilege of sharing this bench with him.”

Breyer will continue on the court throughout the current term, in which the high court is expected to deliver major decisions on abortion and the Second Amendment.

However, Breyer’s “strategic retirement” means he will be replaced by Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of his former clerks.

Breyer, one of the court’s most reliably liberal votes, stepped down while a Democrat was in the White House and the Democrats controlled the Senate, meaning his replacement would be easily confirmed.

Jackson, who will become the court’s first black female justice, was confirmed earlier in April.

While there was some controversy over Jackson’s leniency toward child pornography offenders during her time as a judge, her confirmation fight was not contentious, as it did not affect the 6-3 conservative balance of the court.

However, Jackson is said to be more liberal than Breyer is, and her background as a public defender could mean a different approach to crime than was seen under Breyer.

Jackson called her clerkship under Breyer “an extraordinary gift” for which she is “more grateful with each passing year.”

“Justice Breyer’s commitment to an independent, impartial judiciary is unflagging. And for him, the rule of law is not merely a duty; it is his passion,” Jackson said at an event celebrating her confirmation.

“I am daunted by the prospect of having to follow in his footsteps. And I would count myself lucky indeed, to be able to do so with even the smallest amount of his wisdom, grace and joy.”