Breyer says he did ‘everything’ to stop Roe from being overturned

Newly retired liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he was 'very, very, very sorry' to be on the losing side of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade

Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says he is ‘very, very, very sorry’ about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, did ‘everything’ he could to stop it from happening and warns colleagues rigid decisions could ‘bite you in the back’

  • Newly retired liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he was ‘very, very, very sorry’ to be on the losing side of the Dobbs decision 
  • ‘Did I do everything I could to persuade people? Of course, of course,’ Breyer told CNN’s Chris Wallace for an interview to air Sunday night
  • He warned his Supreme Court colleagues that overly rigid decisions ‘will come around and bite you in the back’ 
  • Breyer refused to criticize Ginni Thomas for pushing to overturn the 2020 election, nor would be say anything bad about Justice Clarence Thomas 
  • Breyer said that while ‘sometimes’ there are two separate camps on the bench, the acrimony is ‘less than you think’ 

Newly retired liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he was ‘very, very, very sorry’ to be on the losing side of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade. 

‘And you say did I like this Dobbs decision? Of course I didn’t. Of course I didn’t,’ he said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace for an interview to air Sunday night. ‘Was I happy about it? Not for an instant. Did I do everything I could to persuade people? Of course, of course. But there we are and now we go on. We try to work together.’

He warned his Supreme Court colleagues that overly rigid decisions ‘will come around and bite you in the back.’ 

‘Because you will find something you see just doesn’t work at all. And the Supreme Court, somewhat to the difference of others, has that kind of problem in spades,’ Breyer said.  

Dobbs overturned nearly 50 years of precedent, with the conservative justices writing that the implicit ‘right to privacy’ in the Constitution didn’t exist, throwing decisions about abortion laws back to the states. 

Newly retired liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he was'very, very, very sorry' to be on the losing side of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade

Newly retired liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he was ‘very, very, very sorry’ to be on the losing side of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade

Justice Stephen Breyer (right) who retired earlier this year, sat down with CNN's Chris Wallace for an interview to be broadcast Sunday

Justice Stephen Breyer (right) who retired earlier this year, sat down with CNN’s Chris Wallace for an interview to be broadcast Sunday 

Prior to the decision being handed down in June, a draft of it was released to the press – an unprecedented leak from a source within the high court. 

Wallace asked, ‘Was there an earthquake inside the court?’ when the draft of the Dobbs decision was published in Politico. 

‘An earthquake?’ Breyer asked. ‘It was very damaging because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. And there we are.’ 

Breyer retired earlier this year and was replaced by the first black female justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

A liberal, he made his decision to step down while the Democrats had control of both the White House and Senate. 

‘There have been delays, you know, when the party is split between control of the Senate and control of the presidency,’ Breyer said. ‘And sometimes, long times pass and I would prefer that my own retirement, my own membership on the court, not get involved in what I call those purely political issues.’ 

He also refused to criticize Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who’s been called to testify before the House January 6 select committee over her role in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

‘I don’t go through that in that I strongly believe that women who are wives, including wives of Supreme Court justices, have to make the decisions about how to lead their lives, careers, what kind of career, etc., for themselves,’ Breyer said. 

‘I’m not going to criticize Ginni Thomas, whom I like. I’m not going to criticize Clarence, whom I like. And there we are,’ the liberal justice added. 

Breyer said that while ‘sometimes’ there are two separate camps on the bench, the acrimony is ‘less than you think.’ 

‘Less than you think … but I can’t say never,’ Breyer said. ‘Maybe a little less jolly, but not I mean – I have not heard people in that conference room scream at each other in anger.’   

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