SCOTUS justices honor retiring Stephen Breyer in heartfelt statements: 'An absolute joy'

·2 min read
Supreme Court justices.
Supreme Court justices. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Among other positives, leaving one's longtime post is a surefire way to hear from those you love and respect most what they most love and respect about you — and of course, Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement from the Supreme Court is no exception.

In brief statements of their own, the court's eight other justices on Thursday commemorated and congratulated their departing colleague, with nothing but nice things to say.

"Justice Stephen G. Breyer is an energetic jurist and dear friend," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts. "He is also a reliable antidote to dead airtime at our lunches, moving seamlessly from modern architecture to French cinema, to old radio shows to a surprisingly comprehensive collection of riddles and knock-knock jokes."

Justice Clarence Thomas, who sat next to Breyer for most of their time together, said it's been "an absolute joy" to spend time with Breyer and his wife Joanna, and he will "continue to hold fast to the countless memories we have already accumulated over these many years."

Justice Samuel Alito also brought up Breyer's "amusing observations at lunch," calling him a "brilliant, erudite, good-natured, and funny" colleague; Sonia Sotomayor said he is "funny, optimistic and giving."

"We all will miss his commitment to seeking consensus and ensuring collegiality in all we do," she added.

Justice Elena Kagan mused that she will miss Breyer "every day," and she can "hardly imagine the court without him."

"His good humor is legendary. I will very much miss his wisdom — and his wit — at our conference table," said Justice Neil Gorsuch.

"He has made the court and America better," wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Added Justice Amy Coney Barrett: "Both in print and in person, Steve aims to persuade through exuberance rather than bite."

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