Stephen is leavin’. In a highly anticipated move, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer is hanging up his robe, presenting an opportunity for President Biden to appoint his first bench warmer to the Court — unless Mitch McConnell figures out a way to block a new pick for the next three years, which is impossible, and yet also seems somehow likely. We can now expect the aggressive Robitusslin to begin, as Justice appointments often make for appointment viewing. But this hasn’t always been the Scotus operandi. Like everything else, this process is more polarized than ever. Here’s a good overview of Breyer’s work on the court from Vox. One of the most interesting takeaways is the manner in which Breyer was chosen. Here’s a judicial review: “The story of how Stephen Breyer came to the Court is a reminder of how our politics has changed over the past generation. Nearly three decades ago, Democratic President Bill Clinton and Sen. Orrin Hatch, then the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had a phone conversation … Clinton wanted Hatch’s thoughts on who he should nominate to replace White. And Hatch — here’s the part that is unimaginable in today’s Republican Party — offered two entirely reasonable suggestions to the new president.”

+ We can expect a fight because in today’s America, there’s always a fight. And that polarization is damaging democracy. Thomas B Edsell in the NYT (Gift Article): America Has Split. “McCoy and Press studied 52 countries “where democracies reached pernicious levels of polarization.” Of those, ‘twenty-six — fully half of the cases — experienced a downgrading of their democratic rating. Quite strikingly, the two continue, ‘the United States is the only advanced Western democracy to have faced such intense polarization for such an extended period. The United States is in uncharted and very dangerous territory.'”