Three times in the past 14 days, he dissented as the Supreme Court issued a series of emergency orders overturning pandemic-related bans and telling the executive branch it must reinstate a Trump-era immigration policy President Biden halted on his first day in office.
But as Breyer sat for an interview in his overstuffed chambers overlooking the Capitol on Friday — batting away questions about retirement and whether the upcoming term would be his last — the 83-year-old justice was anything but grim.
“Only sometimes when I’m in dissent do I get in a really black mood,” Breyer explained. “When I worked for [Supreme Court Justice] Arthur Goldberg and we’d lose something when I’d think we were so right, he’d say: ‘What do you want me to do? Cry?’ ”
Instead, Breyer has adopted Goldberg’s attitude: “Ok, let’s go on to the next one.” Breyer adds: “If that’s Pollyanna, I’m Pollyanna.”
Breyer might have been a bit fixated on the description — excessively optimistic or cheerful — because he was just told that’s how some in his liberal fan base have characterized the assertions he makes about the Supreme Court’s image in his new book, “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics.”