January 27

By Joan E Greve

Today’s politics recap

The supreme court justice Stephen Breyer plans to announce his retirement, according to multiple reports. Breyer’s retirement would give Joe Biden his first supreme court seat to fill, and the president has promised to select a Black woman for the role, which would mark a historic first for the US.

The White House said Biden “certainly stands by” his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the supreme court. While not confirming news of Breyer’s retirement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The president has stated and reiterated his commitment to nominating a Black woman to the supreme court and certainly stands by that.”

Biden deflected questions about the potential supreme court vacancy, saying he would wait to comment until Breyer made the news official. “Every justice has the right and opportunity to decide what he or she is going to do and announce it on their own. There has been no announcement from Justice Breyer,” Biden said as he met with a group of CEOs today to discuss his economic agenda. “Let him make whatever statement he’s going to make, and I’ll be happy to talk about it later.”

Senate Democrats are expected to move quickly to confirm Biden’s supreme court nominee if Breyer does announce his retirement. The party controls the upper chamber and should be able to advance the nomination quickly, although a confirmation would not alter conservatives’ advantage on the bench. Even with Breyer’s replacement confirmed, the six conservative supreme court justices would still outnumber their three liberal colleagues.

Meanwhile, officials from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine met in Paris today, in the latest effort to de-escalate tensions along Ukraine’s border. The talks came two days before French president Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the west seeks to avoid a Russian invasion of Ukraine.