Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is urging Americans not to lose confidence in the high court.
"It's an institution that's fallible, though over time it has served this country pretty well," Breyer said Wednesday during an interview with CNN. "As mother used to say: every race, every religion, every point of view possible is held by people in this country. And it's helped them to live together."
In the interview, the liberal justice said it is important for people to accept rulings they dislike — despite some of the controversy sparked by the court’s decisions.
"It's always been controversial," he said, yet people have traditionally accepted decisions even "that they think are really wrong. ... And yet if they don't, we won't have a rule of law."
Breyer is currently touting his new book, "The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics," where he says divisions among the current justices are not sparked by any political or ideological differences. He maintains they are tied to their methods of interpreting the Constitution and federal statutes.
"People get on perfectly well," Breyer said, referring to the justices. "We like to talk to each other. We enjoy each other's company ... I think the members of the court personally get on pretty well."
The court, which until recently was hearing oral arguments via teleconference sessions, is now back in the courtroom. They soon will hold a welcome dinner for Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed a year ago.
He said she was adjusting to her new role and doing "fine."
"I was pretty nervous the first three years, at least, and maybe a little longer," Breyer said.
Meanwhile, progressives are angry that the Supreme Court is currently comprised of six justices nominated by Republican presidents and three nominated by Democrat presidents.
President Joe Biden has formed a commission to study potential changes to the court. Biden set up the commission after liberals attempted to push him to support an increase in the number of the seats on the high court, in an attempt to counterbalance the current 6-3 conservative dominance, CNN noted.
Breyer declined to comment on the commission’s mission but repeated his concern about so-called "court packing" proposals.
Breyer, 83, has been pressured by progressives to step down so President Joe Biden can replace him with a younger liberal judge.
He was asked if the retirement talk bothered him. Breyer said he accepts it, particularly in the context of the constitutional guarantee of free speech.
"Does it irk me?" he asked. "The truth is, you can always hope for your more mature self, which is there sometimes. ... I mean, really, it's far from the worst thing in the world, to have people say mean things."
"Of course, people will get upset about all kinds of things," he added. "That's why we have this First Amendment. We have it there, so people will say things that you might not like, I might not like."
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