During a Monday interview on GBH’s Boston Public Radio, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was asked by host Jim Braude why more Democrats aren’t getting behind calls for Justice Stephen Breyer to resign.

“I think Justice Breyer’s been in robes long enough that he now sees himself as a product of immaculate conception, and doesn’t recall the world from which he came,” the senator bristled.

Over the past several months, a handful of congressional Democrats have raised concerns that Breyer's eventual exit from the Supreme Court could come at a time when Republicans are in a position of power, further solidifying the court’s right-wing bent. Breyer, who turns 83 this month, and has so far brushed off any notion of ending his tenure as the court’s senior liberal justice.

Whitehouse had previously implied, both in interviews and on Twitter, a belief that Breyer ought to step down. But speaking to GBH's Braude and Margery Eagan, he clarified that he’s never formally called for the justice to resign.

“The closest I’ve come to saying that is to say that if I thought it would make a difference, I would… but I don’t think it makes a difference,” he said.

Breyer's defenders argue that leaving early would send a harmful message about partisanship on the nation’s highest court.

“Unfortunately,” Whitehouse said, “on the Republican side, they play by very different rules.”

“They orchestrate these transitions so that they can keep and expand control of the court,” he said. “And we act as if all this is happening in random selection universe, and as a result, we’re now up to 6-3, with justices who aren’t just conservative but have been picked by very aggressive special interests on the right-wing side to have the views that will allow the right-wing side to get its way and win its cases.”