News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Justice Stephen Breyer, Gun Laws, and Ivory Aquino

 The U.S. Supreme Court building on the day it was reported that Associate Justice Stephen Breyer would soon retire
Getty Images
January 27, 2022


The Story

Justice Stephen Breyer will be hanging up his robe. 

Why do you say that?

Yesterday, sources close to Breyer said he's planning to step down in June when the current SCOTUS term ends. Breyer was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994 and received bipartisan support during his Senate confirmation. The justice has found himself as part of the court’s dissent and majority opinions — and worked to protect the reputation of the court. In recent years, some Democrats have pressured Breyer to retire, in hopes of clearing the path for President Biden to nominate a successor — and maintain a liberal seat on the court. Now, it appears that could happen later this year.

Go on.

Breyer has yet to make an announcement. But the wheels are already in motion: President Biden campaigned on a promise to nominate a Black woman to the lifetime post if given the opportunity — which would be a historic first. Et voilà. Currently, there are only three women and only one Black man on the bench. And Dems are hoping timing is on their side since they currently control the Senate (which confirms SCOTUS nominees) by thiiis much. Meanwhile, Republicans are shaking their Magic 8 Ball, hoping the midterms give them a Senate majority in 2023. If that happens and a nominee isn’t confirmed by then, the GOP will have a bigger say. Otherwise, they’re out of options.

Holding court.

There are a lot of things on the docket this year, including the future of Roe v Wade and affirmative action. Oh and some Democrats are still flirting with court packing. Aka adding more justices to the court to counter its current conservative lean. But replacing Breyer — who has argued against expanding the court — won’t change the 6-3 conservative majority.


The Supreme Court is where a president's legacy can last for decades. During his term, President Trump appointed three conservative justices who could reshape the US. Now, President Biden has a shot at choosing someone who would help decide the country's future.

Skimm MoreHere's where Biden stands on some of his other campaign promises.

And Also...This

Who’s making changes…

San Jose. On Tuesday, the city council voted to require gun owners to have liability insurance and pay an annual fee. This comes after a gunman killed 10 people including himself at a rail yard in the city last year. The mayor estimates that gun violence in San Jose costs taxpayers $40 million annually in emergency response services. Now, this move is believed to be the first of its kind in the US. In addition to liability insurance, gun owners would pay $25 every year toward city-wide gun violence prevention programs. The ordinance still has to be approved next month and would go into effect later this year. 

  • The views: Critics are arguing the law punishes law-abiding gun owners and that they can’t “tax a constitutional right.” But supporters say it’s a step in the right direction. 

What’s here to stay…

“Forever chemicals.” A new report of popular brands found polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS) in more than 70% of items labeled stain- or water-resistant. Problem, because they're toxic — and have been linked to negative health outcomes like increased risk of cancer, decreased fertility, and developmental effects or delays in children. Researchers looked at 60 products like jackets, hiking pants, mattress pads, shirts, and more — from retailers like Amazon, Costco, Target, and REI. And reportedly looked at jackets from companies like Patagonia and Alpine Design. 

Skimm More: Here's what you need to know about PFAS — aka "forever chemicals." 

Who’s looking up…

The Fed. Yesterday, it hinted it might raise interest rates starting in March. The economy is currently being hit by high inflation and a wild stock market. More on how that could affect your wallet here.

Skimm More: Be ready for a rate hike with our guide to the federal funds rate.

Where the numbers aren’t looking good…

San Francisco. Earlier this week, the San Francisco police department released early data showing a 567% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes last year. Officials say the percentage could be higher. Anti-AAPI hate crimes in the US have seen a jump since the pandemic. More than 9,000 incidents were reported between March 2020 to June 2021. Now, the city’s mayor is pledging to do more to support the community.

Skimm More: We spoke with Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni about her organization's impact following spikes in hate incidents across the US. And you can learn about the history of racism against AAPIs in the US here.

What people are remembering today...

The Holocaust. Today marks 77 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. We spoke to a survivor to capture his story. Listen here.

Who’s responding to the Bat-Signal…

Ivory Aquino

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