Stephen Breyer says now isn't the time to lose faith in the Supreme Court
Yet Breyer, who has been promoting a new book, "The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics," emphasized that controversy over the Supreme Court is as old as the court itself.
"It's always been controversial," he said, yet people have traditionally accepted decisions even "that they think are really wrong.
Breyer's conversation with CNN comes as the 36-member presidential commission is expected to begin releasing materials related to possible reform proposals.
Breyer said he had not read testimony the commission has taken since last spring and declined to comment on its mission.
In his book, Breyer contends divisions among the current justices -- six Republican-appointed conservatives and three Democratic appointed liberals -- do not arise from political or ideological differences.
Breyer recounted that that he used to say, "Justice Scalia suffers from 'good writer's disease,'" that he could not pass up a catchy, but "rude," line.
The conversation took place in the Institute's moot courtroom, a stately white and crimson replica of the courtroom at the Supreme Court.
"I think Ruth planned the dinner for me," Breyer added, referring to Ginsburg, who joined the bench in 1993, a year before Breyer.
Breyer said the justices routinely look to that code when considering possible conflicts of interest and whether to disqualify from a case.
He then observed that Supreme Court justices face certain considerations based on their limited number.
When you're on the Supreme Court, that's a more difficult decision in a borderline case, because taking yourself out of the case, there's no one to put in, and you'll end up with the eight (justices).
Since the election of Biden, Democrats have been calling on Breyer to retire so that the president can appoint a younger liberal.