Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) admitted Monday that President Joe Biden's chief of staff leaked to him Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire.
While speaking with reporters, Durbin explained he received a "surprise" call from White House chief of staff Ron Klain last Wednesday morning in which Klain shared the news of Breyer's impending retirement.
"I think the first time he's ever called me," Durbin said, Fox News reported. "He said the president wanted me to know that Stephen Breyer was about to announce his retirement from the court and they were telling a limited number of people and that I should keep it confidential."
Still, it remains unclear who is responsible for leaking Breyer's retirement to the media.
What is the background?
After left-wing groups and Democrats pressured Breyer to retire — coercion he bucked over fears that bowing to such pressures would further politicize the Supreme Court — media outlets widely reported last Wednesday that Breyer had decided to retire.
Breyer, however, was reportedly upset the news had leaked. Even though he had decided already to retire, Breyer wanted to make the announcement on his own terms and not be forced into a corner by news leaks.
Breyer was left "blindsided" by the news leak, according to Fox News chief legal correspondent Shannon Bream. Other court sources told the Washington Examiner that Breyer was beginning the process of "winding down" and that he had planned to announce his retirement closer to the end of the current court term.
One day after the news leaked, Breyer held a joint press conference with Biden, where he made his retirement official.
Who will replace Breyer?
Biden has vowed that a black woman will replace Breyer, a controversial promise that critics have likened to affirmative action.
Several dozen black women currently serve as federal judges, and according to NPR, two of those woman are likely to be under serious consideration for a Supreme Court nomination.
"Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was also on Obama's shortlist for the court in 2016, is regularly mentioned by Democrats. California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger — who was the assistant, and then deputy solicitor general in both Democratic and Republican administrations before she was nominated to California's highest court — is also considered highly qualified for the post. Both women are younger — Jackson is 51 and Kruger is 45 — giving either the opportunity, if chosen and confirmed, to serve for decades," NPR reported.