The Supremes - State and Federal Communications

February 24, 2016  •  

The Supremes

Supreme_Court_US_2010What are the qualifications for becoming a Justice on the Supreme Court?

There are no requirements listed in the Constitution to be a Supreme Court Justice. The youngest Associate Justice was Joseph Story. He joined the bench in 1811 at 32 years old. The oldest justice was Associate Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who retired after serving 32 years at 90 years old. All justices have been lawyers prior to joining the court. To this point there have been six justices that were foreign born.

Where did we find someone to nominate as a Supreme Court Justice?

On the current bench Chief Justice, John Roberts, Jr, Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, and Associate Justice, Elena Kagan are all from New York. Associate Justice, Samuel A. Alito, Jr is from New Jersey. Associate Justice, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy are from California. Associate Justice, Clarence Thomas is from Georgia.

What is the range of time it takes to confirm a justice?

Believe it or not, there are many who were confirmed and sworn in on the very day they were nominated. The most recent was Associate Justice Harold Burton during the Truman administration.

The longest amount of time recorded to go from nomination to a successful confirmation was Associate Justice, Louis Brandeis from the Woodrow Wilson administration at 125 days.

How many were nominated that didn’t achieve confirmation?

From the President George Washington administration thru the President George W. Bush administration there have been 34 that did not get confirmed. The various reasons include the following:

  • Withdrawn as a nominee
  • Rejected by Congress
  • Declined to serve

How many Justices died in office?

Justices are appointed for life. Fifty have retired or resigned on their own accord. Only Associate Justice, Samuel chase has been impeached [1984]. The Senate acquitted him and he remained on the bench until his death six years later.

Associate Justices

Before Associate Justice, Antonin Scalia died on February 12, 2016, there were 26 associate justices who died in office from 1798 – Associate Justice, James Wilson through 1954 – Associate Justice, Robert Jackson.

Chief Justices

A total of 17 men have been the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The longest served was Chief Justice, John Marshall of Virginia [who was nominated in 1801 and died in office in 1835.]

There were eight Supreme Court Chief Justices who died while serving the court. Included in this list are Chief Justice, John Marshall [appointed by President John Adams] died in 1835 at 76 years old. The most recent Chief Justice was William Rehnquist [initially appointed by President Richard Nixon as associate justice and nominated to chief justice by President Ronald Reagan] died in 2005 from throat cancer.
How many vacancies occurred during presidential election years?

Vacancies in the Supreme Court during an election year are not that uncommon.   There have been 14 confirmed between Associate Justice, Oliver Ellsworth, 1796 [during the President George Washington administration] and Associate Justice, Anthony Kennedy in 1988 [during the Ronald Reagan administration].

How many U.S. Presidents have also served on the Supreme Court?

There has only been one U.S. President to serve on the Supreme Court and that is President William Howard Taft. Eight years after his failed re-election to the office of president, he was nominated by President Warren Harding to replace Chief Justice Edward White. He served for nine years and resigned due to bad health.

This article has been researched from the following sources:

7 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Supreme Court” by Elizabeth Nix on

At least 14 Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during election years” by Timothy Lee in Vox

U.S. Justices and Judges Who Died While Still Holding Office” on

Biographies of Current Justices of the Supreme Court” on the United State Supreme Court website

How Long Does It Take to Confirm a Supreme Court Nominee?” in The New York Times


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