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Watch: Supreme Court Justice Breyer is expected to formally announce his retirement Thursday

Justice Stephen Breyer, photographed in 2015.
Ariel Zambelich
Justice Stephen Breyer, photographed in 2015.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is expected to formally announce his retirement Thursday.

He's set to appear with President Biden at the White House at 12:30.

You can watch the event live here:

News of Breyer's retirement leaked Wednesday. His decision was long sought by liberals to give President Biden the opportunity to nominate his first high court justice while Democrats control the Senate. During the campaign Biden pledged he would select a Black woman for the court.

NPR has reported that two leading contenders are federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was also on President Obama's shortlist in 2016, and 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. Both women are younger — Jackson is 51 and Kruger is 45 — giving either the opportunity, if chosen and confirmed, to serve for decades.

Breyer, nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1994, is, at 83, the court's oldest justice. Even if the Democratic majority in the Senate is able to confirm his successor, it will not change the conservative 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court. He is expected to remain on the court through the end of term in June.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised Tuesday that "President Biden's nominee will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.