Talk:Chief Justice of the United States

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Nature of Politics?[edit]

The Chief Justice normally speaks first, and so has great influence in framing the discussion. Is there any evidence or research that addresses this issue? It seems like a very not encyclopedial at the moment. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:02, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

It is mentioned and discussed in Armstrong and Woodward's The Brethren. Magidin (talk) 17:17, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Who protects the Chief Justice?[edit]

Is this a secret service job, or US Marshall? or is he on his own?

According to the Secret Service page, [1], they do not. The U.S. Marshall's page [2] does identify protecting judges as part of their duties, and explicitly lists "163 instances of personal protective services to Supreme Court Justices" for the fiscal year 2002. However, this seems to be provided only as needed and not ongoing, since they only list four on-going long-term details, three in New York and one in Virginia. Magidin 16:52, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Presides over Vice President's impeachment?[edit]

I noticed an edit made a short time ago on Chief Justice of the United States where it was written wrote:

In particular, the phrase "and the Vice-President of the United States" was added. I looked through the U.S. Constitution and Impeachment#United States and neither seemed to explicitly indicate that the Chief Justice would preside over a VP's impeachment proceedings.

From the U.S. Constitution:

Article I, Section 3, Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

I have no particular reason to doubt it is the case however, so I was hoping someone could provide a source. Thanks! --Jewbacca 23:37, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)

From Rule IV of the United States Senate's Impeachment Rules (emphasis added):

When the President of the United States or the Vice President of the United States, upon whom the powers and duties of the office of President shall have devolved, shall be impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States shall preside.

Note that this rule only applies to the Vice President when the Vice President is Acting President. Otherwise, if the Vice President is being tried for impeachment while he is not acting as President, precedents would dictate that the President pro tempore would preside.

I haven't found any other acts/rules which would say otherwise, so I will edit accordingly. Pmadrid 05:22, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I also have not been able to find a governing rule; however, I find this result somewhat odd. The reason for having the Chief Justice preside at a Presidential impeachment is to avoid a conflict of interest, since a presiding Vice President would assume office in the event of a conviction. In the same way, the conviction of the Vice President would elevate the President pro tempore in the order of succession and Senatorial precedence. Though this elevation would only be temporary (since the 25th Amdt. allows for appointments in the event of a Vice Presidential vacancy), it would seem a temptation weighing on the impartiality of the President pro tempore. I will continue to research. Xoloz 17:40, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

  • As you say, such an "ascension" would be quite temporary. Furthermore, as I can tell you already know, this would not place the PPT even next in line; the Speaker remains between him and the oval office. Short of a plot on the part of the PPT to dispose of both the President and the Speaker (and needing to do so in a matter of weeks, if not days), the "temptation" would appear to be minimal.
Suffice it to say that, in the unlikely happenstance that such a series of events did occur, methinks that an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, as a prologue to impeachment hearings, would be quick to arise.
Still, such things are fun to think of. Perhaps now someone can write the novel for us? Unschool 00:53, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Direct Nomination?[edit]

I was surprised when I learned that a Chief Justice is usually nominated directly, versus being elevated from Associate. Is there a reason for that? I would have thought that someone with Supreme Court experience would be prefered. -- 15:15, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

The difficulty for any President in elevating an Associate is that two confirmations (i.e., Senate votes) are required -- one for the new Chief Justice, and one for his replacement as Associate Justice. This is a very real political challenge. BeakerK44 00:55, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
That's one possible reason. But then, sometimes the two confirmations is something the president is looking for. When Reagan elevated Rehnquist, it caused a storm of opposition to Rehnquist (which was easily predictable). Although Reagan nominated Scalia at the same time, and Scalia had a history of opinions and writings that were far more unpalatable those in the Senate who disliked Rehnquist, the opposition had spent itself trying to oppose Rehnquist. Rehnquist was confirmed as Chief Justice by a vote of 65-33, while Scalia was confirmed by a unanimous vote of 98-0. It was widely acknowledged that the double confirmation worked in favor of Reagan's designs in that case. As for the other two "double confirmations", when White was elevated there were actually three nominations: White to Chief Justice, Lamar to replace him, and van Devanter to replace Moody, all nominated on 12 Dec. 1910. White was confirmed that same day without even a roll-call vote, and Van Devanter and Lamar were confirmed also without a roll-call vote on the 15th. At the time, it should be noted, nominees did not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee; the first one to do so was Harlan Stone in 1925, the one after that was Felix Frankfurter in 1939 to address slanderous accusations against him, and the next one was John Harlan in 1955. It was only after Harlan that it became traditional for the nominees to appear and answer questions. So likewise the other elevation and double-nomination, Harlan Stone himself for Chief Justice and Robert Jackson to replace him, did not elicit any opposition either. Both were simply confirmed without a roll-call vote, Stone on 27 June 1941 and Jackson a week and a half later. Roosevelt had also nominated three justices the same day: Stone for Chief, Jackson to replace Stone, and Byrnes to replace McReynolds. Byrnes was in fact the first confirmed, also with no recorded opposition. If history was a guide, Bush should have elevated someone to give him a triple confirmation hearing (I'm joking, of course). Magidin 02:20, September 9, 2005 (UTC)

I agree. It is news to me also, but apparently there have only been three people out seventeen promoted from Associate Justice to Chief Justice.User:MPA

Indeed; and all in the 20th Century: White, Stone, and Rehnquist. White was allegedly promoted because Taft was angling for the position himself, and wanted it empty shortly after he left office; White was also recommended by his fellows for the position. Stone was promoted in part because he was recommended as well, among others by Hughes. You could add two other chief justices who had previously been Associate Justices, though they were not elevated: Hughes and Rutledge (the latter a recess appointment that was later rejected). And LBJ tried to elevate Abe Fortas, but Fortas withdrew the nomination when the scandal over his lecture fees broke. Magidin 04:12, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

I'm guessing it is because it is much harder to confirm an Associate, given their detailed history of opinions on Supreme Court cases.

There are other reasons. Some Associate Justices do not want to be elevated (Potter Stewart reportedly told Nixon he did not want the job after the Fortas elevation went south and the replacement of Earl Warren fell on Nixon). There is a very real risk of alienating other justices (Hugo Black and Robert Jackson both threatened to resign if the other was elevated, both very much in the running at the time). The President may not care for any of the sitting justices. The president may want to name his own man. As far as experience, appellate experience is usually considered to be more than enough, and historically has not really been a prerequisite. Some of the greatest justices to sit have had no experience as appellate judges, or even as judges: John Marshall, Earl Warren, Hugo Black; Rehnquist himself had no experience as a judge whatsoever when he was named Associate Justice. Magidin 04:03, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

I also agree. I also find it kind of goofy to nominate to the arguably most powerful position in the government of the USA a man who has 3 years of experience as a judge and otherwise only opinions that he wrote and says don't represent him. Can't we find somone more qualified, or would then Bush-approved candidate have to fight too much of a battle? I would like to know these things. -- jns

Of the 16 Chief Justices so far, seven had had no previous experience as judges at all: Oliver Ellsworth, John Marshall, Roger Taney, Salmon Chase, Morrison Waite, Melville Fuller, and Earl Warren. Not everyone was a good chief justice, but I think we can count Marhsall, Taney, and Warren as extremely able. Magidin 04:03, September 6, 2005 (UTC)
I think you're overstating the "power" of the Chief Justice compared to that of an Associate. Remember, each Justice has only one vote. The President, Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House are each far more powerful. The Chief simply gets to assign the person writing the opinion when he's in the majority, and he's chief administrator of the judicial system. If Bush thinks that John Roberts would be a more effective administrator of the judicial system (remember, as an MBA, Bush's background is in administration) and/or that Roberts' existing history as a jurist demonstrates that he is a consensus builder, that gives Bush very good reasons to nominate him instead of Scalia or Thomas, both of whom certainly would face some very hostile fire from Senate Democrats. BeakerK44 00:55, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

Some interesting info and insights above, especially about reasons why the Chief usually gets appointed rather than elevated. Perhaps a bit of that explanation could be worked into the article space? i was wondering about it while reading Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine, which incidentally mentions another admin task/power of the CJ worth noting here, at least: controlling the weekly list of cert petitions under consideration, i.e. some say over the docket of cases... In one instance, Rehnquist kept re-listing a hot potato case (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) to keep it unresolved before the 1992 elections, some liberals on the court believed. Justice Stevens had to threaten to write a dissenting opinion about the re-listing, which would be unprecedented. So Rehnquist backed down. El duderino (talk) 08:12, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

The problem is that most of the above is speculation: it cannot be sourced, so it is not appropriate to add. As for the agenda setting power, it is already mentioned. I think you are overstating the power: it has influence because the Chief Justice makes up the preliminary list, but any justice can add cases to the docket on his or her own initiative. Much to Burger's chagrin, Marshall and Brennan always added all capital cases to the agenda, for example. How much power the Chief Justice derives from the agenda depends on how much the other justices let him "get away with." Magidin (talk) 16:22, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Current table of Chief Justices[edit]

Is it really appropriate to list John G. Roberts on the table, given that he is still only the nominee for the position? Jdhowens90 19:09, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

No. I will change and guard it. Xoloz 19:28, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

It appears that some folks want Roberts on this table. My argument in opposition is John Rutledge -- it continues to be disputed by some scholars whether he was really Chief Justice, and he was appointed by Washington in a recess. Given his tenuous status, I find it odd to list Roberts before confirmation, whatever other WP precedent for lesser offices may be. Xoloz 19:52, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Also note, that there is no WP precedent for Chief Justice, and that office is unique in its own way, a Constitutional Officer who is the statuary head of a Constitutional Branch of Government. I argue that the special position of that office demands restraint in prematurely giving nominees the appearence of official imprimatur. Xoloz 20:05, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

You're making the case for chief justice precedent by restricting prior evidence to only the chief justice, which last time a vacancy occured was pre-wikipedia. We've done this for Secretary nominees on the office page after nomination and before confirmation. That's the closest analogy and that's why there IS precedent on Wikipedia to include Roberts with a designation of nominee. 20:24, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Until sworn in, he does not belong on the lists, just in the notes or text, explaining his status. That is standard procedure with judicial appointments - take a look at how nominations to the Circuit Courts are handled. The Rutledge tenure is recognized by the government and recess appointments are valid, what some scholars say is beside the point. Next you will be telling me that Atchinson was a President ;-) . NoSeptember 20:37, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Dude try reading what I wrote. Secretaries nominated are not acting secretaries either, but we designate them as a successor on the table with a parenthetical remark of (nominated). He belongs on the list as a nominee, I'm not saying he IS a Chief Justice, but he is a nominee to be Chief Justice. We do the same thing for elected offices as well saying "Mel Martinez (senator-elect)" for example. 20:42, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
I did read what you wrote. We have treated judges differently than Executive branch nominees. Judges do not serve at the pleasure of the President, they can not be fired (only impeached). A Senator-elect has met the conditions of the office (except the passage of time), while a unconfirmed nominee has not (he must still be confirmed, which is not a certainty). NoSeptember 21:47, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
It is also not a certainty for any Executive branch nominee to be confirmed yet we list them as nominated for the sake of providing complete information to readers

Complete information may be provided in text. In truth, Roberts does not have much relevance to the discussion of the Chief Justiceship yet, a mention is enough. I concur with NoSeptember that that the lifetime tenure of Justices is another reason to exclude Roberts till confirmation.

So, arguing against Roberts inclusion in the table, we have the following:

  • The Rutledge example, as an appointed CJ, who in not included in the list by some, notably preeminent 19th historian George Bancroft. If he only makes the list under dispute, why add a nominee?
  • Generally, judicial nominees are handled differently than executive ones. The independence of the third branch demands a greater respect for its officers (and for Senatorial confirmation rights) than might be expected for executive branch inferiors, who do serve at the President's pleasure.
  • The Chief Justice is unique, even among Judicial nominees. A Constitutional officer, he is by statue The Chief Justice of the United States, esteemed above even his SCOTUS colleagues. As Rehnquist himself implied when he selected his Gilbert and Sullivan stripes, the Chief's administrative functions make him a quasi-Lord Chancillor.
  • Roberts was himself a nominee for Associate Justice two days ago; although another change in plans is unlikely, his appointment has proved "fluid" in an unprecedented way.
  • I argue generally against listing any nominees in lists of office-holders as premature and falsely authoritive, and derogative of the Senate's role. Is John Tower listed as a SOD nominee? He was. Listing current nominees gives the false impression that all nominees (even failures) are listed. I question if such precedent exists at all, and (if it does) it must be a weak precedent, because there are heavy factors against it. In a special case such as this, with a position of such prominence, the weak, uncertain precedent clearly cannot hold.

Given this, I will now restore the table sans Roberts. It will probably be only a month until he is there, but it is accurate, fair, and proper as a matter of respect to the dignity of the high office to keep him off the list until he assumes the office. Xoloz 01:19, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

It would appear someone yet again added Roberts. Given the apparent concensus among those here that the addition is premature, I removed it.--Yock 17:52, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
Thank you. I would have done this myself, but I was limited by WP:3RR. Xoloz 20:41, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

Interim Chief Justice?[edit]

I don't think it is accurate to call Rutledge "interim Chief Justice". He was a recess appointment later rejected by the Senate. Certainly a footnote to that effect would be appropriate (say, "Recess appointement, rejected by Senate"). Formally, he was Chief Justice until confirmed or the next session of the Senate ended. Section 2 of Article II reads "The President shall have the Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session." Rutledge had the commission of Chief Justice. It is certainly an odd case, since his is the only recess appointment to the Supreme Court whih was later rejected; and recess appointments who are later confirmed take the Oath again. But even then, their service is counted from their recess appointment, not their confirmed appointment. Thus, Warren was Chief Justice from 1953 to 1969, even though his nomination was submitted to the Senate in January 1954 and he was confirmed in March 1954, because his recess appointment began in 1953. Magidin 04:27, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

Bad Example[edit]

In the page it says, "Most Chief Justices, like William Howard Taft (a former President himself) and Earl Warren, are nominated to the highest position on the Court without any previous experience on the Court, or indeed in the entire United States Judiciary," which would perhaps imply (depending on how you read it) that Taft had no experience in the entire United States Judiciary, while, according to This article, he was a judge fo the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals before becoming President. Perhaps John Marshall or Earl Warren might be a better example of a relatively well known person with no federal judicial experience prior to becoming Chief Justice. Waterj2 07:09, 6 September 2005 (UTC)waterj2, Sept. 6, 2005

I changed that; Taft was accurate as far as "no previous experience in the Court," meaning not having been associate justice first (only five CJs had ever been Associate Justice in the Supreme Court before becoming Chief). But I changed it to place John Marshall and Earl Warren as examples of those who had no experience in the federal judiciary at all. Magidin 16:11, September 6, 2005 (UTC)


The assignment power of the Chief Justice is not really a "duty", nor is it specified anywhere. Like most internal procedures of the Court, it is an unwritten "rule", and certainly not a constitutional duty. I think it is best to say that, for the purposes of internal procedures of the Court, the Chief Justice is automatically considered to be the justice with most seniority regardless of his/her years of actual service in the Court. This makes the assignment power simply a corollary of seniority (which it is) rather than a specific power of duty of the Chief Justice. It also makes other powers/duties (speaking first in Conference, chairing Conference, and presiding over the Court when it sits) a consequence of seniority. I would suggest the following, breaking it up in several parts:

"The Chief Justice is considered to be the justice with most seniority, independent of the number of years he or she has served.
"By the unwritten internal rules of the Supreme Court, that means that the Chief Justice chairs the Conference of justices where they decide what cases to hear and discuss and vote on cases already argued; he prepares the preliminary list of cases to be discusses, and speaks first when voting on cases already argued, allowing him or her to define the agenda of the Court in large measure, and to frame the terms of the discussion (note that, traditionally, any Justice may add cases to the agenda by simply notifying the Chief Justice their desire to discuss a particular case).
"In any vote, the most senior Justice in the majority has the power to decide who will write the Opinion of the Court. Since the Chief Justice is always considered the most senior member, if he or she is in the majority then the Chief Justice may decide to write the Opinion of the Court, or assign it to some other member of the majority of his or her choice. (The Opinion must still receive the votes of a majority of Justices after being written; so on rare occassions votes have been known to switch depending on the written drafts.)"

Would this be acceptable? It seems like a rather major reworking for me to just charge ahead and make it without opening it up for discussion first. Magidin 16:47, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

I appreciate very much the corrections you've given here, but I think this might be a case were "splitting hairs" leads to less clarity. The Chief Justice has one clear constitutional duty: to preside in case of Presidential Impeachment before the Senate; and one implied constitutional duty: to preside over the Court. Beyond that, all his duties are statutory (Judicial Conference, annual reports, designations to special tribunals, rule revisions, etc.) traditional (Pres. Inaugural.) It is clear that traditional duties really exist -- Rehnquist limped onto the platform on 20 Jan. for a reason; not appearing would seem improper, a species of dereliction of duty. In the same way, assigning opinions is a traditional duty (though obviously not a constitutional one.) It is also true that opinion assignments are otherwise based on seniority.

I do think that it is an implicit constitutional duty that the Chief preside at meetings, if only because Art. III mentions the Court and its Chief; I do not think that it is simply a traditional duty so much as a logical one inherent in his title. My point is that I believe it is a very fine matter which of the Chief's duties arise from seniority, and which from his office. I like your third paragraph very much, but I believe your second one ("By unwritten rule...") provides a false sense of clarity -- the origins of the Chief responsibilities are sometimes not so easy to assign to one source. I hope I have made sense. Xoloz 20:56, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

Yes, you did. So you would agree with replacing the current statement on writing opinion with my first and third paragraphs. The last sentence may clarified a bit, I think; at least drop the "so" from "so on rare occassions...", and perhaps adding at the end "making someone else's draft the Opinion for the Court." Alternatively, I could just try writing a short article on how the majority opinion and concurrences/dissents are written, and link to that.
On reflection I think you are right about the second paragraph; nonetheless, I still think it might be worth noting that the Chief Justice has great influence in shaping the agenda and discussion within the Court by virtue of chairing the Conference. Perhaps:
"The Chief Justice chairs the Conferences between Justices where cases are discussed and voted on. He normally speaks first, and so has great influence in framing the discussion."
Magidin 21:16, September 6, 2005 (UTC)
By all means, your first and revised third paragraphs have my endorsement, with the caveat that I do not know (and no outsider firmly knows) how often opinion drafts change vote tallies, which are given in formal secrecy -- I would, thus, drop "rare" as well as "so." Again, thanks for the wonderful, high-quality edits. Xoloz 02:57, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
I went ahead and made the change, making the former third paragraph (with your proposed further revision) into a sub-paragraph of the seniority one. I also added the paragraph on chairing the conference and speaking first, but if people think it shouldn't be there and remove it I won't put up a fight. Thanks for the kind words. Magidin 04:24, September 7, 2005 (UTC)

Oath of office?[edit]

Who administers it to the incoming CJ? The senior Associate Justice? Postdlf 03:04, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

Good question. Traditionally, the Chief Justice administers the oath to incoming justices; but this is, as far as I can tell, just tradition. And there seems to be no specific tradition for an incoming Chief Justice. Burger administered the oath to Rehnquist, and Warren administered the oath to Burger. But according to Burger, as you can see in [3], when Burger asked Earl Warren to administer the oath, Warren replied that he (Warren) had expected Burger to ask one of Burger's colleagues in the Court of Appeals (since Warren and Burger did not get along very well), and it was at Burger's insistence that Warren administered the oath to emphasize continuity. That document also mentions that when Warren took office, at which time there was no departing Chief Justice (since Vinson had died) it was indeed Hugo Black, then the most senior Associate, who administered the oath. So I would expect Roberts to ask Justice Stevens to administer the oath, but he could, perhaps, ask some other judicial official. Magidin 16:16, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
And indeed, Justice Stevens administered to oath to Roberts. Magidin 19:09, 29 September 2005 (UTC)


During the shuffle of the past few days, I had added some trivia relating to the Chief Justiceship that got deleted; for instance, that Harlan Fiske Stone was the only justice to ever sit in all the chairs (having progressed from most junior to most senior justice and finally being elevated to Chief Justice), and that Roberts and Rehnquist are the only Chief Justices so far to have clerked for a Supreme Court Justice. Then the end of the article was deleted, then some of the trivia restored (shortest and longest appointment, etc), then the trivia removed and the references restored. Should the other trivia be added, or would it make more sense in a separate page, e.g., "Trivia about the United States Supreme Court" or some such? Magidin 20:23, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

I think it should be readded, but that's just me. I haven't actually completely read the article yet, but I in part came here to see who served for the longest time as Chief Justice. I think that information could actually be of some value beyond just trivia actually because it could indicate the relative influence of different Chief Justices. But other information that I might consider trivial could also be of value to others. If the inormation is or was in a seperate "Trivia" section perhaps it should be dispersed throughout the article. Theshibboleth 01:07, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Chancellor of the Smithonian Institute[edit]

The Chief Justice is Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institute? What are his or her duties? Is this just a figurehead position? I felt that it was innapropriate for the Chancellor link to link to the article on Chancellors, meaning Chancellors for a whole country, so it now links to Chancellor_(education) since this would seem to be more of the sense of the title though not exact. Theshibboleth 01:11, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

I now see that the Chancellor article specifically mentions the Chief Justice in his role as Chancellor of the Supreme Court. I'll move this to the Chancellor_(education) article. Theshibboleth 01:13, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

VPs and Acting Presidents[edit]

Actually, this correction had to do with the VP, but I thought that the previous version made it appear that prior to 1967, some VPs had served as Acting President for lengthier periods of time, when in fact, it was not even possible for a VP to become acting Prez until the 25th Amendment went into effect in 1967. Unschool 17:08, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

I understood it as this way. An impeachment trial of the Vice Presidnet (when not Acting President) is automatically presided over by the Senate President pro tempore. One can't preside over one's own Impeachment Trial. GoodDay (talk) 21:35, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Numbers of justices[edit]

There are now 9 justices, but have there always been 9? Tabletop 08:01, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

The number has changed. See United States Supreme Court#Composition. (Mark Adler 12:14, 15 October 2005 (UTC))
The Constitution does not specify the size of the Supreme Court, so it is set by statute passed by Congress. The Judiciary Act of 1789 linked the number of justices to the number of circuits of lower federal courts (three circuits, and two Justices of the Supreme Court would ride circuit in each, giving a Supreme Court of size 6). In 1793 the number of justices per circuit was dropped to 1, but the Court remained of size six until 1801, when Congress reorganized the lower circuits and changed the size of the court to five. Then in 1802, under Jefferson, the size was restored to six. Then new justices were added whenever Congress established additional circuits: the seventh seat was created in 1807, the eight and ningth in 1837; the short-lived tenth seat which was in charge of the Pacific Coast circuit in 1863. The tenth seat was abolished in 1866, when antipathy towards Andrew Johnson resulted in Congress passing a law saying that the Court would be reduced from 10 to 7 seats by attrition. Then in 1869 the size was fixed at 9 (creating a vacancy since the Court had at the time only 8 justices), and the number of seats has remained nine since then. The only real attempt at changing the size again was FDR's Court-packing Bill. Magidin 20:17, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

Switching votes[edit]

The current text mentions explicitly that Earl Warren switched votes in order to stay in the majority and affect the decision via the assignment power. I am not sure why Warren is being singled out; according to Woodward and Armstrong's "The Brethren", for instance, Warren Burger used this tactic very often (very notably after the first arguments in Roe v. Wade, when he assigned the decision even though the other justices remembered him as being in the minority). In any case, I think "voting strategically" would be a somewhat better term than "switching votes." Perhaps something along the lines of:

Some Chief Justices (notably Earl Warren and Warren Burger) are said to have voted strategically in particular cases specifically so as to be in the majority and be able to moderate a decision through the assignment power.

Any comments or better suggestions? Magidin 14:49, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

It's been a while, but I went ahead and made a change similar to the one above. I don't see why Warren was being singled out. I could mention the recent opinion in the Washington State scholarship cases in which Rehnquist voted with the majority to allow the state to forbid the scholarships being used for religious training as an example where it seems likely the Chief Justice voted with a majority he disagreed in order to assign the opinion and do damage control (Rehnquist wrote that opinion, which was very narrowly written). Magidin 17:55, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Popular Culture?[edit]

why must all wikipedia articles have a "Popular Culture" section? It is rarely relevant or informativeǃ

Images in Table[edit]

I missed it when it happened in April because it was the first of a series of changes. But is it really a good idea to have the images in the table of Chief Justices? They make the table unwieldly, making it extend too far vertically. It requires over three screenfulls, and most of the space is blank. For now I will make them smaller, around the size of the portraits in Supreme Court of the United States, but perhaps they should be dropped altogether; even at this size, the table is almost two screenfulls long. The point of a table like this is to be able to take in all the information easily. If the table is too large vertically, I believe it defeats the purpose. Magidin 21:31, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Wm. Cushing on list of CJs[edit]

Recommend Cushing be removed entirely. See the newly cited portion of his article concerning this. Thanks. Foofighter20x (talk) 20:06, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

That's no reason to remove him completely. Even if he was never chief justice, the fact that the president nominated him and he was confirmed by the Senate is sufficient reason to include a reference to him. Richard75 (talk) 17:35, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
But he never accepted the spot. Think of the precedent this sets. You'd have to count among members of the court Senate-approved candidates who declinde their position, like Robert H. Harrison and William Smith. Foofighter20x (talk) 17:39, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
Also, I could see mentioning Cushing's nomination, confirmation, and declination in the article, but I wouldn't go so far as to put him in the table. Read Cushing's article. He had dispatched his declination before the Feb 3-4 hearings, so he never truely sat as CJ. Foofighter20x (talk) 17:45, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, didn't mean to ignore your response, I didn't see it. Harrison and Smith were nominated as associate justices, not chief justices (at least their articles don't say chief justice), so Cushing is the only example of this happening in the office of chief justice. Richard75 (talk) 20:47, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
No prob. Just to clarify, I said the precedent set would be counting those other two guys as members of the court, not as Chief. :p :) Foofighter20x (talk) 06:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

End of John Rutledge's term as Chief Justice[edit]

The table said that Rutledge's recess appointment ended on December 15, 1795, but that is incorrect. It is the date the Senate rejected his appointment, but under Article II Section 2 a recess appointment ends at the expiry of the next session, which was June 1, 1796 (see 4th United States Congress#Dates of sessions). His article states that he left office on December 28 (and gives a source), so he must have resigned -- so I have amended the table to December 28. Richard75 (talk) 19:11, 3 January 2009 (UTC)


53 people watch this page, and yet nobody noticed that the entire "Origin, title, and appointment to the post" section was deleted for seven weeks (see here and here). Wake up, guys. Richard75 (talk) 00:46, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Elevation to Chief Justice[edit]

Can someone cite what law or Senate rule that describes the procedure of elevation of an associate justice to chief justice? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Asherkobin (talkcontribs) 08:20, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't think there is a law or a Senate Rule. If the President simply nominates someone who is currently an Associate Justice to become Chief Justice, then the nominee must go through the confirmation process; if successful, he resigns his current position and takes the Chief Justice position; if unsuccesful, he retains his position as Associate Justice (just like an unsuccessful appelate court judge nominee would still be in the appelate court). Magidin (talk) 18:53, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
Worth noting here the ealier section above with more detail and some interesting speculation. El duderino (talk) 08:32, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Incredibly low salary[edit]

The article mentions the salary without any comment, but it is very interesting that it is quite staggeringly low, not much more than half that of the top judge in the UK, and not much more than new law graduates get in big law firms in New York. There must be some public discussion on this salary. What is the usual justification for it? Who supports it? Who thinks it should be raised to something more in line with what senior American lawyers make? What effect does the low salary have on the quality of the candidates for the office? Choalbaton (talk) 17:07, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Their pay is indexed against what Congressional members are paid, with the added constitutional caveat that if Congress ever decides to take a pay cut (*snicker*), the justices' salaries cannot be reduced. -- Foofighter20x (talk) 02:34, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Lock article?[edit]

This article may need to be locked. Someone edited the Style to "Chief Turn Coat". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:17, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

Seniority unclear[edit]

The first sentence under "Seniority" has to be revised.

"The Chief Justice is considered to be the justice with most seniority, independent of the number of years of service in the Supreme Court."

I have no Idea how the court works or anything but the sentence is - at best - not clear or - at worst - even factually incorrect. The article on seniority (which is linked to, right in this sentence) clearly describes seniority as something that comes with either age or years of service. That makes the sentence an oxymoron.

Literally interpreted the sentence could mean: "The office of chief justice is always held by the most senior judge." After further reading I know that that is false. But especially since the constitution does not specify anything it could very well be true and would make sense for a reader that is not informed (like me an hour ago).

I assume it is meant to say something like "The Chief justice has the most influence, independent of seniority."

A revision could be "The Chief justice has more influence on the court's decisions than the other judges, because he is normally allowed to speak first."

There is also no citation to clarify any of this.

No, it is not meant to mean anything about "influence". If you read the article on Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United States, you will see that there are many aspects of the way in which the Court works which are linked to seniority. For example: the most senior justice in the majority assigns the opinion for the Court; the Justices speak and vote in order of seniority in their conference; and so on. However, while the seniority of the Associate Justices is determined strictly by length of service, the Chief Justice is always considered to be the most senior justice for all procedural purposes, regardless of how long he has been serving. But the influence of a justice is not linked to their seniority, so to revise it as you propose would not only be misleading, it would be factually incorrect. Your claimed potential interpretation would automatically clash with the second clause of the sentence, by the way, so I disagree that it is possible interpretation. The sentence you object to is not factually incorrect. Magidin (talk) 02:18, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
That said, rather than modify the correct sentence, I've added some introductory sentences to help explain how seniority plays before making the statement about the CJ. Magidin (talk) 02:26, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

Presidential Inauguration of 1793[edit]

Why didn't John Jay administer the oath of office at Washington's second inauguration? 101090ABC (talk) 22:10, 28 October 2016 (UTC)