Every man who has ever come into power and uses that power for evil eventually turns into a turtle. I cannot explain this phenomenon succinctly, but it is irrefutably true. Power is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands and in the right hands, simply unremarkable. When a powerful person uses their privilege for good, there is no deleterious effect on their physical appearance. When they use their power for bad, they turn into a turtle.
The evidence of this theory, which is certainly scientifically sound, is seen most clearly in the case of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is straight-up growing a shell. But we can now add to this example the case of Stephen Breyer, a Supreme Court Justice in his 80s who is pulling a Ruth Bader Ginsburg by simply refusing to retire so that another younger and more progressive Biden nominee can step in. According to NPR, progressives are clamoring for his retirement not because his values are bad, but because of what happened when Ginsburg died: Trump quickly confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, stacking the court in favor of the right. From NPR:
But an NPR analysis of the court’s last term found that the justices swerved to the right, even by the standards of the traditionally conservative Roberts court. While there was unanimity on statutory matters, the justices split along ideological lines in the high-profile politically charged cases — such as voting rights.
Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, but a justice can decide to retire at any time. Progressives had hoped to push Breyer in that direction. One group, Demand Justice, even sent a billboard truck driving around the Supreme Court building in April with the message: “Breyer, retire. It’s time for a Black woman Supreme Court justice,” a reference to the president’s vow to nominate a Black woman to the court.
As previously stated, Breyer is not remotely as evil as the original turtle man, Mitch McConnell, but perhaps this warning will spur him towards some action. Retirement is a dream for many that will go unrealized. Social Security is set to run out of money by 2035. As a retired Supreme Court justice, Breyer could live out his golden years learning needlepoint or teaching himself how to fly fish, or maybe, just staring into the middle distance and reflecting quietly on his long career. With the time he’d have on his hands once freed from his job of doing justice, he could write a crime novel or get really into sourdough. There are so many options that it is mind-boggling that he does not choose freedom! Retire, Mr. Breyer (if you want), and let someone else take the reins.