Sandra Day O'Connor's Son Shares Advice She'd Give to Justice Stephen Breyer as He Retires

Sandra Day O'Connor and retiring Justice Stephen Breyer enjoyed both a good working relationship and a strong friendship during their time together on the Supreme Court, Scott H. O'Connor told Newsweek on Wednesday.

Scott is one of three sons O'Connor had with her late husband, John Jay O'Connor, and he shared some fond remembrances of Breyer with Newsweek.

Due to her progressing dementia, Sandra Day O'Connor retired from public life several years ago and no longer comments on current events, Scott explained.

However, he said the advice his mother "would give Justice Breyer today would be to use the next five years, while he is still best remembered and has the most energy, to continue making a difference in American life, dedicating himself to improving selected institutions and practices of good governance and citizenship."

Scott added, "It is what she did, and would encourage him to do."

 Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer
Scott O'Connor spoke with Newsweek about the working and personal relationship his mother, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, left, enjoyed with soon-to-be-retired Justice Stephen Breyer, right. In this photo, O'Connor and Breyer are seen at the conference on "Striking the Balance: Fair and Independent Courts in a New Era" at Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C., on May 20, 2009. YURI GRIPAS/AFP via Getty Images

"She was very fond of Justice Breyer, professionally and as a personal friend. Mom and Dad were invited several times to join the Breyers on vacations over the years they worked together," Scott wrote to Newsweek in an email. "Whenever I visited Mom in her Court office, she would take me to visit other justices in their chambers. Justice Breyer was always one of those visits."

Scott related to Newsweek how highly Breyer thought of his mother, who history will always remember as the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

"He [Breyer] told me during several of those encounters how much he appreciated Mom's role as a colleague, and how much she meant to the collegiality among the justices," Scott O'Connor said. "It was during their time together on the court that the longest period without a change in justices passed by, about 11 years from Breyer taking office to the arrival of Chief Justice Roberts."

Justice O'Connor and Breyer often found common ground while serving on the high court, Scott said.

"I understand that Justice Breyer joined about 100 of Mom's opinions in those 11 years," he wrote.

Scott O'Connor also discussed how he thought his mother would feel in regards to President Joe Biden handling the responsibility of replacing Breyer on the bench.

"She would hope that President Biden's nominee for Justice Breyer's seat would receive a prompt hearing and decision from the Senate, with no delays intended only to game the system until after a subsequent election," Scott said. "That's what she said when Merrick Garland was nominated, and she would say it again now."