Talk:List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

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Former featured list List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States is a former featured list. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page and why it was removed. If it has improved again to featured list standard, you may renominate the article to become a featured list.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
March 23, 2007 Featured list candidate Promoted
March 18, 2009 Featured list removal candidate Demoted
March 2, 2010 Peer review Reviewed
Current status: Former featured list

Initial comments[edit]

Wow, our coverage in this area is pretty damned poor. No Warren Burger, Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, Lewis Powell, Potter Stewart, neither John Marshall Harlan, no Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas... I would spruce it up, but my knowledge isn't really that great. john 20:07 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)


Yeah. I was going to update the entry for Thomas Johnson. I went to Gov Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, MD, but I do not know if that makes me an expert :-) User:RayKiddy 8/27/2003.

I am not sure how to represent this. Please suggest something. Originally, I thought the right-hand column would be the dates that the person was Chief Justice of the Court. I was thinking that one was an Associate Justice and then the other Court members elevated one to Chief Justice. But actually, the Chief Justice is picked by the President. So it is probably true that for all the time the Justice was sitting, he was a Chief Justice. So, the right-hand column holding the dates made less sense.

But look at John Rutledge. It appears, from, that he was an Associate Justice from 2/15/1790 - 3/5/1791 and Chief Justice from 8/12/1795 - 12/15/1795. I am not sure how best to represent this. Should the sitting dates of all Chief Justices be moved out to the right-hand column? Any thoughts? User:RayKiddy 8/27/2003.


As Chief Justiceship and Associate Justiceship require separate appointments, one's tenure as each is listed separately. Thus, John Rutledge, Edward D. White, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan F. Stone, and Rehnquist are all listed twice. That's usually how it's done in most reference works that I've seen. john 05:38, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Time to rename this page to "Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States", since it contains not only past but present Justices? -- Someone else 07:36, 30 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Yes, I'm in favor. RickK 07:38, 30 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Since the current members of the Supreme Court were already listed on the main Supreme Court page, I felt that since there was no place to go to to find former justices that one would have to be made, hence "Past Justices..." I don't know who added the current justices to a page intending to display the former justices, but I suppose it doesn't really matter and could be afforded a change. Katagelophobia 10 Sep 2003


I think I am finished with the edits I am trying to make. I made the center column represent the dates an Associated Justice was sitting, and the right-most column is the dates a Chief Justice was sitting. Someone who was both gets two rows. I think I got these all correct, finally.

E.D. White is listed twice, still. john 06:43, 30 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Justice Catron update[edit]

Justice John Catron was nominated by President Andrew Jackson, on March 3, 1837, the last day of Jackson's presidency. I have updated this page to reflect that Catron was a Jackson, not a Van Buren nominee. For further information, and validation, go to the Supreme Court's own www site, for the biography on Catron:

Following is the direct link for the Supreme Court's biography of Mr. Justice Catron:

Following is quoted from that biography on that site:

JOHN CATRON was born of German ancestry in Pennsylvania in approximately 1786, but little is known about his early years. They appear to have been spent in Virginia and Kentucky. There is no record of his schooling. In 1812, Catron moved to the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee and served under General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. He was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1815, and in1818 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he established a practice specializing in land law. In 1824, he was elected to the Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals. In 1831, the Legislature created the office of Chief Justice of the Court and Catron was elected to the position. Under a further reorganization in 1834, the position of Chief Justice was abolished. Catron returned to private practice and became active in national politics. When Congress expanded the Supreme Court of the United States from seven to nine members, President Andrew Jackson nominated Catron to one of the new seats on March 3, 1837. The Senate confirmed the appointment on March 8, 1837. Catron served on the Supreme Court for twenty-eight years. He died on May 30, 1865, at the age of seventy-nine.

Thanks so much for your very informative www site.

Best regards,

John Keohane Austin, TX (512) 371-3853


I moved this page because current justices (the ones in bold) are obviously not "past justices". --Jiang 08:49, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

10 vs 9[edit]

Perhaps the page should include a note explaining how there can be 10 seats but only 9 justices. - [[User:KeithTyler|Keith D. Tyler [flame]]] 20:58, Nov 22, 2004 (UTC)

I have added a note indicating how there can be 11 seats (the Chief Justiceship is a seat) but only 9 Justices. (Two of the seats, Associate Justiceships #5 and 7, no longer exist.) DLJessup 20:39, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)

Taft exit from office[edit]

According to the Supreme Court Historical Society (, Mr. Taft retired. According to the Federal Judicial Center (, Mr. Taft resigned. What may have happened is this: Chief Justice Taft retired in the sense that he quit working to live on his government pension; however, he did not legally retire from the bench because he foregoed the annuity of a former Chief Justice in favor of the larger pension of an ex-President.

I would appreciate if anyone could shed some light on this issue.

DLJessup 20:47, 2004 Dec 4 (UTC)

Recess appointment[edit]

I'm unclear on this terminology? Can someone incorporate an explanation into the article?--Wasabe3543 22:22, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I didn't incorporate an explanation into the article, but I did wikify the term "recess appointment", as there is already a Wiki article that explains this concept. — DLJessup 00:17, 2004 Dec 20 (UTC)
The asterisk should be changed to a note that appears at the bottom of the screen. Jrkenti (talk) 14:22, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Factors that influence Supreme Court decisions[edit]

I have a question - I'm doing a project on the Supreme Court and I need help - what are the factors that influence the Supreme Court descisions other than their party affiliation? Please help. I'll check back here later.

Difference between resignation, assuming senior status, and retirement[edit]

Perhaps this page should explain the difference between the three. Is there a substantive difference at all? 07:44, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

There is a substantive difference. One can resign at any time. At that point, the justice stops receiving compensation from the government. With retirement, the justice must meet certain criteria, and then they receive their annual salary at the time of their retirement as a pension for the rest of their lives. With senior status, again the justice must meet certain criteria, but then the justice continues to work part-time and receives a part-time salary. A justice could actually assume senior status, then retire, then resign. I'm not sure this is the appropriate page for such an explanation; a pointer to the appropriate page might be more in order.
I'll try to respond more fully later. — DLJessup 15:30, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

List layout[edit]

I was looking through this today, and I thought that the list was a bit confusing. I remember seeing the template for US state congressional representatives (example), and I was wondering if a variant of that template would be appropriate for this page. Rascalb 08:18, May 25, 2005 (UTC)

First of all, it would help if you would tell us how or why the list was a bit confusing. Just telling us that the list was confusing doesn't help anyone to identify and fix the confusion.
Now then, as far as your comment about the "template" goes, I have started a succession diagram in the subpage List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States/workspace. If and when it is completed, the diagram could be appended to the main page. (I would vehemently object to it replacing the current list, as the current list contains information that is simply not available in a succession diagram.)
DLJessup 19:41, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
By confusing, I meant that it was difficult to see who succeeded whom, as well as who was on the court at the same time. The workspace example looks like a good start, and I agree with keeping the current diagram with the all its information.
Rascalb 20:50, May 25, 2005 (UTC)

Chronological chart[edit]

The following two posts were originally written to my user talk page. I have reposted them here as I think this is a more appropriate location for this discussion.

DLJessup 18:26, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I like that [ DLJessup ] added the succession diagrams to this page. Might I suggest, however, that we break up the top portion of the page (chronological list of justices) into Chief Justice and Associate Justices. This would serve three purposes: (1) it would differentiate the two positions, which are constitutionally and statutorily distinct from one another; (2) it would allow us to remove the Seat column from the chronological chart, as that data is contained in the succession diagrams; and (3) it would allow us to remove the succession diagram for Chief Justice as it would be redundant. Let me know if you think this is a good idea. --Saucy Intruder 15:19, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I respectfully disagree with breaking the CJ out of the complete list. There should be a list somewhere with a complete listing of all justices. Many people may refer to such a list to see how many justices a particular President appointed, this is made harder if they have to consult 2 lists (the associates list, the CJ list) instead of one. Also it will be harder for someone who wants to know the exact order of confirmation when justices are listed on two lists. The Chief Justice article has a list of just CJs as does the bottom section of this article, we could just link Chief Justice of the United States in a note at the top of the list for those looking for that list. As for the column on seat #, I agree that it could be eliminated. We could just put "(Chief Justice)" after the name in the name column. NoSeptember (talk) 16:17, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I have eliminated the "Seat" column and replaced it with an "Office" column which has as its value either "Chief Justice" or "Associate Justice". I await feedback.

DLJessup 00:18, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Links in dates[edit]

The reason for having the links in the dates is to provide for internationalization of the dates. Please restore the links. Kelly Martin 04:21, Jun 12, 2005 (UTC)

Actually, that's why I deleted them. There simply is no room for full dates in that table, and Wikipedia doesn't internationalize anything aside from full dates, so the links were serving no purpose aside from puffing up the size of the wikitext. I'd be willing to put them in ISO 8601 format, if I get some sort of consensus that people would like that, but without such a consensus, I'm going to leave things the way they are.
DLJessup 14:02, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)

First table with dates:[edit]

Would look something like this, which displays well on my system:-

Rich Farmbrough 15:47, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

First, I've put the prototype table into a subpage, because it was occupying more than half of the space of the talk page. I didn't even know where to put this posting, because if I put it before the table example, it starts disconnecting it from its referent "this", and if I put it after, I'm replying to something halfway up the page.
As to the prototype, it displays well on my home desktop computer, but it sucks on my home laptop computer. The difference between the two is the width (and height) available on screen.
Finally, if we were to switch to full-size dates, given that this is an article about the U.S. government, I would think that U.S.-style dates should be the default.
DLJessup 22:41, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

"U.S.-style dates" The point is that [[17 June]] 17 June and [[June 17]] June 17 look the same to each person, depending on their preferences. either both say 17 June or both say June 17. Rich Farmbrough 22:38, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

And, incidentally, the fifth prefernce for date display is ISO or something very like it. Rich Farmbrough 22:43, 2005 Jun 21 (UTC)

The dates do not look the same if, like me, you go for the first date option: "No preference".

I'm not sure what your point is about the fifth preference being ISO 8601, unless you mean that a person who has a narrow screen should set their date preferences to ISO. That might make sense if they wanted ISO for all of their pages, but no one's going to go to the trouble of shifting their date preferences just for this page.

DLJessup 00:06, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Look, could you give me a better argument, so that I can back down from my position gracefully? I've actually come up with a version of the table with full dates that actually looks reasonable on the laptop.
DLJessup 00:51, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Looks good. I mentioned ISO dates, because you seemed to like them, I thouhgt you might not be aware of the preference. Rich Farmbrough 13:08, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Page location[edit]

Shouldn't this be List of Justices of the United States Supreme Court? john k 00:28, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Never mind. What am I smoking? john k 00:29, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Resign or retire?[edit]

Retire on this page, but resign on their own pages:

Resign on this page, but retire on their own pages:

Failed to say anything on their own pages:

These problems must be fixed. -- Toytoy July 2, 2005 04:21 (UTC)

OK, first three issues:
* Hughes is actually perfectly fine. Pay close attention and you'll notice that he served two nonconsecutive terms on the Court. He resigned from his first term (as Associate Justice) to run for President in 1916. He was appointed Chief Justice in 1930 and then retired from this appointment.
* Nelson was a genuine discrepancy. The biographical article was wrong, and has been fixed.
* Ellsworth. While you have that he retired on this page, but resigned on their own page, you have it exactly backwards: on this page, he is listed as resigning, and on his own page, it says that he "retired from public life" in 1801. Note that "retired from public life" is not the same thing as "retired from the Court"; the former is a description of the effect of Ellsworth actions on his career, and the second is a legal statement about his mode of leaving the Court.
Will examine the other issues soon.
DLJessup 2 July 2005 05:43 (UTC)

Next two issues:

  • Roberts was a genuine discrepancy. The biographical article was wrong, and has been fixed.
  • Moody was a genuine discrepancy. This page was wrong, and has been fixed (and the cause of this error footnoted).

Now, as to the "failed to say anything on their own pages": these are not discrepancies; they merely indicate that someone should be bold and update the dern articles.

I will treat John Rutledge separately, because his bullet point has a sub-bullet point. Like Hughes, Rutledge had two terms on the Court. The first time around, he resigned his commission to become Chief Justice of South Carolina's highest court. The second time around, he received a recess appointment, and then had his appointment rejected by the Senate. There is no discrepancy, but merely confusion of the two terms.

DLJessup 2 July 2005 06:17 (UTC)

Resignation and retirement are major decisions to them. Most justices just do their jobs until the day they die. I'd like to see such decisions mentioned on their own biographical pages. But we must not make so many mistakes.
I only checked resigned and retired justices. I did not check those who died. Hopefully these articles are correct. -- Toytoy July 2, 2005 13:24 (UTC)

Can we breakup this page?[edit]

It's just too fat!

By the way, can we use last names rather than full names on the templates? It's such a party with these over-crowded templates! -- Toytoy July 2, 2005 13:24 (UTC)

I agree that we should divide it. Most other similar lists, like List of Presidents of the United States, only list the basic info for the topic, and have other lists like List of U.S. Presidents by time in office for specialized info. We could keep the first list "Justices in chronological order" at this article, and move the other two to List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by seat and List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by Chief Justice. Then if someone wanted to add another type of listing of Supreme Court justices, they could create a new article. Mateo SA | talk 05:02, July 16, 2005 (UTC)

Good things come to those who wait….

I have split up the page into List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by seat, and List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by court composition.

DLJessup (talk) 02:47, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Old table vs. new table[edit]

IMHO, the older table looked a bit more compact and easy to read. For example, is there a need to put senior service terms on the table? It's irrelevant to their service on the Supreme Court. Also, it seems that position has been removed. 4 July 2005 19:39 (UTC)

Hi there:
I've restored the new table. I do appreciate your concerns, because I built both the older and newer table (although there's a still older table I had nothing to do with). And, if I get a consensus (that means some people besides you) that the old table should be brought back, I'll restore it. But, there are reasons for the shift from the old table to the new table. Most importantly, the new table uses the U.S. judgeship templates that are used by all of the Circuit Courts of Appeals, and may eventually be used for all of the Article III courts. That leads to consistency between articles.
As far as your comment about senior service terms: It actually is somewhat relevant to their service on the Supreme Court insofar as they can free up other justices from certain drudgework that isn't done en banc. (I believe, for example, that emergency stays are granted by the individual justice who is given responsibility for a given circuit by the Chief Justice. I would suspect that Justice O'Connor, once she takes on senior status, will be performing that sort of drudgework for the Ninth Circuit since she will be heading back to Arizona.)
As to your comment about the position column being removed: that information is redundant because of the Active and Chief terms. Moreover, the removal of that column allowed three pairs of rows to be compacted together.
DLJessup 6 July 2005 01:44 (UTC)
But Justice Kennedy is now responsible for the Ninth Circuit. I believe O'Connor specifically used the word 'resignation' in her letter to the president. Given Kennedy's reassignment, I'm not sure O'Connor has any responsibilities. Shouldn't she be marked as resigned?
Parableman 5 Feb 2006 14:09 (UTC)
First of all, O'Connor never used the word “resignation”. (See Image:Oconnor070105 0001.jpg.) She is in senior status, which is a form of retirement, which is the word she used in her letter.
My guess about what O'Connor would be doing once she entered senior status was clearly wrong. I still do not know what responsibilities she is taking on, but that does not mean that she has no responsibilities. Even if she currently has no responsibilities, that doesn't necessarily mean that her judicial commission has been terminated: the amount of work required to maintain senior status has been steadily dropping, and it might actually be zero now. The key fact, however, is that O'Connor is still a federal justice; she can be assigned by the Chief Justice to almost any federal judicial position whenever she and the Chief Justice agree.
If O'Connor does have to perform judicial work to maintain her senior status, my suspicion is that she would serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, which has a courthouse in Tucson. She has apparently retired there, as she is supposed to teach at the University of Arizona in the near future.
DLJessup (talk) 05:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Warren Burger's state[edit]

I believe that the meaning of the state column is the state of residence of the Justice when he or she is elevated to the Supreme Court. If somebody wants to come up with a better interpretation for the state column, I'd be most pleased to hear it, and then I'd want to review all of the state data to make sure that it conforms with this definition.

Chief Justice Burger was on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit when he was elevated to the Supreme Court. One of the requirements for working on the DC Circuit is that you live within a certain distance of DC; as a practical matter, then, all DC circuit judges are citizens of Virginia, DC, or Maryland. Thus, Burger could not reside in Minnesota at the time of his elevation.

DLJessup 00:01, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

-It feels a bit disingenuous to say that Burger is from Virginia when most of his career was spent in Minnesota, however. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 16 November 2015 (UTC)


I've got a couple of concerns about the "Index" column. First, it consumes valuable width on the screen. I have ameliorated that by shrinking the column, but any new column must take serious scrutiny because this table has already had issues with being too wide. Second, I don't understand what the point of the column is. It doesn't seem to add any information. Third, at this point the justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the appeals courts have different tables. There's no reason for the two classes to differ: either this table should be returned to its original state, or the judges of the appeals courts should also have that same index column.

DLJessup (talk) 13:42, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

The reason for the Index column was to provide an unambiguous objective count of the number of Supreme Court Justices who have served.
In the ensuing reactions to the Harriet Miers nomination, United States Senator Bill Frist stated
"And since she has not served as a judge, she will bring a unique perspective to the Court. In fact, 41 of the 109 Supreme Court Justices that have served, including Chief Justice Rehnquist, did not have prior judicial experience." [2]
Another article reinforced this count [3].
The October 12, 2005 version of the Wikipedia Harriet Miers nomination article [4] stated that there were 112 total Supreme Court Justices.
Facing these discrepancies, I was curious myself as to the exact number, hence added the index column. Refer to [5], where an anonymous user, via comments, reveals reactions to my changes of the numbers from 112 to 109 to 111. User switches it back to 112, then within two minutes, back to 111 (perhaps the user saw the indices I had added to the table). A condensed version of the exchange of comments [6] is as follows:
(October 20) Experience - 112 count 'em
(October 22)
  • Experience - 109 Supreme Court justices, not 112. See [7] for a listing of all of them.
  • Experience - Recount - looks like 111 actually
  • Experience - There are 112 regardless of what any article may say. Please count them (including Roberts).)
  • Experience - Hmmm... ok, maybe I was wrong, but it's still not 109. (back to 111))
Keeping the indices is imporant for several reasons:
  • Wikipedia reasons:
    • To prevent needless edit wars and reversions when contributors cannot agree on the number.
    • To provide a transparent method of how the number was derived.
  • Table integrity reasons:
    • To prevent ambiguity in the process of calculation. One can claim in a paragraph that there are X number of justices; having the index available makes verification of the number much simpler (try counting them by hand on the screen without the indices; it is a pain in the butt).
    • To ensure that the table is complete compared with other similar tables on the Web. I found one table [8] on the Web that seemed to list only 109 justices and again I had to count by hand -- was the result due to my mistake in counting while scrolling, or was the list incomplete? I lost patience and decided to provide the indices to this Wiki article.
    • To provide a quick visual reinforcement that no entries have been inadvertently removed (if so, the indices would skip, or the final column would not result in 111, or whatever the correct number may be in the future.)
  • Research reasons:
    • To provide a stable baseline when calculating statistics. 111 is the current number, but each number is important in itself when calculating statistics for different historical eras, eg how many Justices had been appointed prior to certain years or certain historical events?
Please put the indices back in.
It would be helpful for the main Wikipedia people to provide an option within templates for automatically indexed tables. The indices would not be part of the database, but be generated during the display process, much as the double-square brackets are replaced with the resolved URLs during the display process. Given all the other stuff that Wikipedia is able to do, I would imagine that such a feature would be relatively quick to implement. As you are a registered user, and because you have already created so many tables, perhaps you could make the suggestion in the appropriate forums. 00:47, 8 November 2005 (UTC)
(Revisions) 01:40, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

As you may have noticed, I have created an index column in the U.S. judgeship templates, which means that this column is now in all of the U.S. circuit courts of appeals as well as this page. That disposes of all of your posting except for the comment about automatically indexed tables. I happen to be, at the least, skeptical of the value of automatically indexed tables, so I am probably not the best person to advocate that concept. I think you might consider becoming a registered user and making the suggestion yourself.

DLJessup (talk) 05:12, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Thanks DLJessup for putting the indices back in -- it's unpleasant work!
However, now I understand the subtle discrepancy between the contents of this table versus the title of this Wiki article "List of Justices of the Supreme Court...".
This table is really a "Chronological list of contiguous terms served by Justices of the Supreme Court...", which is why John Rutledge and Charles Evan Hughes appear twice, thus leading to 111 table entries for the 109 Supreme Court Justices who have served.
Perhaps a change should be made:
  • (Option #1) Change the table to reflect the title of the Wiki page. This means data contained in Rutledge's and Hughes' 2nd rows would be combined with their first rows, perhaps something like this:
# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
5 John Rutledge* SC September 18, 1739
June 21, 1800
1st tenure:
February 15, 1790
March 5, 1791

2nd tenure:
August 12, 1795
December 15, 1795

(none) (none) Washington 1st tenure:

2nd tenure:
rejection of
appointment by

62 Charles Evans Hughes NY April 11, 1862
August 27, 1948
1st tenure:
October 10, 1910
June 10, 1916

2nd tenure:
February 24, 1930
June 30, 1941

1st tenure: (none)

2nd tenure:
February 24, 1930
June 30, 1941

(none) 1st tenure:

2nd tenure:

1st tenure: resignation

2nd tenure:

  • (Option #2) Leave the table alone, but change the sentence of the 2nd paragraph of this article, perhaps something like this:

The following table lists all contiguous terms served by Supreme Court Justices since 1789, placed in the order in which they took the judicial oath of office and thereby started their term of office.

  • (whatever the first note is )
  • (whatever the 2nd note is)
  • John Rutledge and Charles Evan Hughes both served two non-contiguous terms and therefore each appears twice in this table. 23:36, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Actually, a judicious use of cut-and-paste and Perl cuts down considerably on the unpleasantness of filling out the index column. The index columns for the circuit courts of appeals are considerably more unpleasant because the current and past members are separated.

As you can see, I went with option #2. I also added a note about the likes of Robert Hanson and Edwin Stanton, who were appointed to the court but didn't serve.

DLJessup (talk) 00:06, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Thanks! 00:14, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Alito 110[edit]

Samuel Alito has just been confirmed by the Senate. He is widely reported in the professional media as being the 110th Supreme Court Justice. Yet Wikipedia says he is 109. Did Wiki miss one, or are the big guys wrong, again? -- 16:47, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

The person who created Alito's row did a cut-and-paste of the previous row and failed to update the index. This has been fixed.
DLJessup (talk) 16:51, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Acting Chiefs?[edit]

When the death of the CJ leaves the position vacant (as with Rehnquist), isn't the senior Justice then the "acting Chief" until a new appointment is made? If so, should that be noted for those who have occupied that position? BD2412 T 21:57, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

We have a note about that in the Stevens article for the 2005 vacancy, but I don't think "acting Chief" is in any way a formally recognized role like Acting President would be. Would an acting chief have the right to sit at the Smithsonian Board meetings for example? I doubt it. Its probably just a tradition of seniority thing, like the assigning of opinions when the Chief is in the minority. NoSeptember talk 22:07, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I'll see if there is any statute law designating powers to the senior Justice in such circumstances - the situation seems pretty rare, tho - before Rehnquist, you have to go back to the 1950's to find a gap between the departure of one CJ and the service of the next. BD2412 T 22:56, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I didn't realize our Earl Warren picture got deleted 2 days ago :p NoSeptember talk 23:15, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

See 28 USC section 3

Sec. 3. Vacancy in office of Chief Justice; disability

Whenever the Chief Justice is unable to perform the duties of his office or the office is vacant, his powers and duties shall devolve upon the associate justice next in precedence who is able to act, until such disability is removed or another Chief Justice is appointed and duly qualified.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) . 14:03, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

The senior Associate Justice always performs the duties of the Chief Justice whenever the Chief Justice cannot do so -- whether because of a vacancy in the office of Chief Justice or through the Chief Justice's illness or a recusal in a particular case. However, the title "Acting Chief Justice" is generally not used in the Supreme Court's official documentation, as it is in some state court systems (e.g. New York's). Newyorkbrad 21:33, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Confirmation votes[edit]

Tomf688 did a really nifty thing, adding a new column to this list for the confirmation vote. However, I was forced to revert his changes to the {{Start U.S. judgeship}} and {{U.S. judgeship row}} templates for two reasons. First of all, these templates are also used by the various United States Court of Appeals for the ''X'' Circuit articles, and these changes had broken the templates. This could have been addressed: we could have used the {{qif}} template to perform conditional display of the confirmation vote column, and eventually populated that column. There is a second problem, however: the table in this article is already having problems with being too wide. We have hard-coded line breaks to help deal with the formatting problems. Therefore, I have created a new List of nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States to hold the information that Tomf688 had added. Right now, it is very bare-bones, with just a table and a single reference. I hope this meets with everyone's approval.

DLJessup (talk) 02:41, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

That's probably a better article to have the confirmation votes on anyways, since it holds more information (such as those whose nominations failed). I was surprised to see that they were still holding voice votes up until the 1960s on nominations as well. --tomf688{talk} 14:22, 4 February 2006 (UTC)


If anyone is planning on working on this subpage, continue to do so, or delete it. Permanent subpages are against Wikipedia policy. It has remained unedited for about a month now. Pepsidrinka 16:02, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

I have put it up for speedy deletion.
DLJessup (talk) 17:05, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Deleted, DLJessup was only substantive contributor. NoSeptember talk 17:50, 21 February 2006 (UTC)


Should the header of the eighth column be Nominated by rather than Appointed by? The president can't appoint unless there is a vacancy, he merely nominates and the Senate confirms/appoints. --MZMcBride 21:21, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that the President "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... judges of the Supreme Court...." Thus, as a formal matter, (1) the President nominates, (2) the Senate confirms, and (3) the President appoints. Thus, even though I try to use "nominated" in the articles I am contributing regarding lower-court judges, technically there is nothing wrong with the "appointed by" heading. Incidentally, "Appointed by President __" is the heading used on the list on the Supreme Court website itself. Newyorkbrad 23:16, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Gotcha. Thanks for the response, and heads-up. --MZMcBride 00:10, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Tom Clark footnote[edit]

Discpad just made a change in which he modified the entry for Tom Clark, changing the “Reason for Termination” from death to resignation and adding a footnote that Johnson had maneuvered Clark into resigning. There are two problems with this. First of all, Clark did not resign in 1967: he assumed senior status. While Clark could no longer participate in the primary business of the Supreme Court, he was still technically a justice. Footnote 5 explains this issue.

If that were the only problem, that would merely mean that the “Reason for Termination” column should be restored, but the footnote would be transferred to the end date of the “Active” column and the start date of the “Senior” column. However, the footnote is not really appropriate for this page; rather, the information in it belongs to the “Tom Clark” article.

DLJessup (talk) 12:40, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

As I've noted elsewhere, with respect to U.S. Supreme Court Justices the term "senior status" is not used. The term that is used is "retired Justice" or "Justice (retired).". See for example the front matter to any volume of the United States Reports, or the list of judges in a lower-court case in which a former Justice (including in many cases Clark, J.) sat by designation. This confusion arises because retired status for a Justice may be equivalent to either senior status or full retirement for a circuit or district judge. I am also aware that certain lists use the term "senior status" for retired Justices but they have no warrant either in statute or in usage for doing so. Newyorkbrad 12:57, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Dern it, my original response was eaten by Wikipedia's recent outage. Oh, well. Let me reconstruct what I wrote before.
The use of the term senior status in this article followed the practice of the web site of the Federal Judicial Center. For example, see their thumbnail bio of Tom Clark. Obviously, given that you showed me how wrong I was on the issue of pre-20th Amendment congressional and presidential terms, I suspect that you're probably right on this issue as well. Could you please direct me to that elsewhere where you noted that senior status is not used for justices? Also, what changes would you recommend for the table? In particular, what do you think the label should be for the column currently labelled “Senior term of service”?
DLJessup (talk) 15:07, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
User of the term "retired Justice" for a Justice who has left the Supreme Court after satisfying the age-and-service requirements can be found, e.g., on the Supreme Court website, e.g. here. As I noted above, the front matter of most any volume of the United States Reports will contain a listing of the Justices, including those designated as "Retired" and that is the category in which Justice Clark was listed following his departure from the Court in 1967.
The Federal Judicial Center's use of the term "senior status" to refer to retired Justices may be based on simple consistency across the database, or may be founded upon 28 U.S.C. sec. 371, which deals with retirement of both Justices and lower-court Article III judges and refers in the caption (but not as far as I can see in the text) to "retirement in senior status." But the more specific statute is 28 U.S.C. sec. 294 ("Assignment of retired Justices or judges to active duty"), which distinguishes between retired Justices in section 294(a) and retired judges (other than Justices) in section 294(b). Section 294(b) provides that "[a]ny judge of the United States who has retired from regular active service ... shall be known and designated as a senior judge and may continue to perform such judicial duties as he is willing and able to undertake, when designated and assigned...." There is no comparable provision for applying the term "senior" to Justices.
I have never seen the term "senior status" used to refer to a Supreme Court Justice except in the FJC tables and in sources (including on Wikipedia) derived from them. When a retired Justice sat on a lower-court case, he ("he" because Justice O'Connor has not been designated to sit anywhere yet, so far as I know) is always designated as "Justice, Retired."
I hope this information is helpful. There may be a number of other articles that should be edited slightly to reflect it. Newyorkbrad 00:40, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I've read 28 U.S.C. § 371 before, but I'd never read 28 U.S.C. § 294; I had always thought that the reference to a “senior judge” was a matter of custom, not statute.
Thank you. The information is definitely helpful. I will probably be making edits sometime in the next few days on this issue, starting with senior status.
DLJessup (talk) 01:01, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Having thought about this some more, the reason (apart from the statutory one) for different usages for retired Supreme Court Justices versus other judges became clear to me. Basically, the intent of senior status is that the (semi-)retired judge can continue performing judicial duties in his or her court, with a reduced caseload if desired. Thus, a Senior District Judge continues to hear some cases in his or her district, and a Senior Circuit Judge continues to sit on some panels in that circuit and decide some appeals. But a retired Supreme Court Justice, while available for designation to lower courts, never sits as a member of the Supreme Court again. Newyorkbrad 02:32, 30 September 2006 (UTC)


I added a timeline. But the first justice gave an error Feel free to look into the code and add them. (mind that I have written all dates in the DD/MM/YYYY format. --Donar Reiskoffer 08:39, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

from: 05/10/1789 till: 21/08/1798  color:justice text:"James Wilson"                  fontsize:10          
from: 19/10/1789 till: 29/06/1795  color:justice text:"John Jay"                      fontsize:10          
from: 02/02/1790 till: 13/09/1810  color:justice text:"William Cushing"               fontsize:10     
from: 02/02/1790 till: 25/10/1795  color:justice text:"John Blair"                    fontsize:10       
from: 15/02/1790 till: 05/03/1791  color:justice text:"John Rutledge"                 fontsize:10         
from: 12/05/1790 till: 20/10/1799  color:justice text:"James Iredell"                 fontsize:10       
from: 06/08/1792 till: 16/01/1793  color:justice text:"Thomas Johnson (Maryland)"                fontsize:10       
from: 11/03/1793 till: 09/09/1806  color:justice text:"William Paterson"              fontsize:10      
from: 12/08/1795 till: 15/12/1795  color:justice text:"John Rutledge"                 fontsize:10      
from: 04/02/1796 till: 19/06/1811  color:justice text:"Samuel Chase"                  fontsize:10          
from: 08/03/1796 till: 15/12/1800  color:justice text:"Oliver Ellsworth"              fontsize:10      
from: 04/02/1799 till: 26/11/1829  color:justice text:"Bushrod Washington"            fontsize:10
I created a second timeline with the justices appointed before 1800. In fact, it is possible to merge all of the justices'd just hate it for maintainability reasons....
What you have to do is change the DateFormat so DateFormat = x.y. Then you need to determine the fraction of the year that the justice was appointed (figure out the day of the year and then divide it by 365 or 366). It's not very pleasant, subject to lots of errors, and would be unpleasant to convert the entire table above by hand (I'd find some way to script it).
from: 1789.36 till: 1798.64 color:justice text:"James Wilson" fontsize:10
Maybe there's some way to template this process, but I don't have any good ideas how. –Pakman044 20:00, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States#Timeline[edit]

When associate justices get promoted to chief justices (e.g., Stone and Rehnquist), I think this should be indicated by a single bar that is both red and blue, rather than by separate bars. Does somebody know how to edit the timeline to do this? --JianLi 01:08, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I did my best to figure that out. If you want to give it a try be my guest. As you can see by the two graphs, however, the code is clumsy. And I really dont feel like it detracts from the information. Warhol13 20:29, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

--I want to echo this call. I think that would maximize the value of the table. I have no idea how to do it though so if anyone reading this wants to take a stab at it, it would be very helpful. Papercrab (talk) 21:29, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Roberts from Maryland?[edit]

Why is John Roberts listed as being from Maryland? He was born in NY. He went to HS in Indiana. College in Connecticut and Mass. Practiced law in the District of Columbia since 1981 and still does. He happens to have a house out in Chevy Chase and we(I'm from MD) have to take credit for this man? By that logic the entire supreme court should be listed as being from MD and VA. He's a fed. He's not from Maryland. He's never practiced law in this state. So... I think it should be changed to DC or maybe NY. - Arch NME 00:31, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

It's not very clear at all what the basis of listing the "State" for each justice is in the table. My personal feeling would be one of two criteria, either what State would a person most reasonably associate the justice with, or how would the justice answer the question of "where do you live irrespective of your job?". Whether he practiced law most of the time in DC or never did in Maryland may be relevant but isn't necessarily the end all answer to this question. It would probably be nice to have a specific definition for this column, but it isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things (at least not enough to get bothered over it). Alternatively, you could petition your legislators to make an additional cession of land to the federal government, having them cut a piece out of Maryland the size of his lot and making that a part of Washington.... –Pakman044 14:44, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
When the President nominates someone to any federal office, the formal nomination papers sent to the Senate are in the form "I nominate [name] of the State of [state] to be [office]. The state named would be that of the candidate's residence (so it is perfectly plausible that Maryland would be listed even if the candidate worked in D.C.). Traditionally, lists of Justices (including the one on the Supreme Court's own website) use the location designated in the nomination paper. Newyorkbrad 15:19, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
On that basis, the nomination says that he's from Maryland. –Pakman044 19:44, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Is Holmes a recess appointment?[edit]

Here (and elsewhere), Oliver Wendell Holmes is often listed as a recess appointment, but I'm not sure that's the case. This much is clear: the news that Holmes was to be the next Justice broke on August 11 (1902) and the Senate had a quick confirmation vote on December 4.

Remember, there are four steps to becoming a Supreme Court Justice: 1. Nomination by the president 2. Confirmation by the Senate 3. Appointment by the president via commission 4. Taking of the Oath of Office by appointee

alternatively, during a senate recess, the first two steps can be skipped, and the nominee can be appointed and take the Oath with the confirmation coming at a later time. Such was the case with Warren, Brennan, Stewart and others. It appears however, that Holmes took his Oath of office after Senate confirmation. This article gives a date of December 8, which was presumably taken from the list at the Supreme Court website, which, in accordance with the list above, reckons tenure from the completion of the final step of the process: the Oath. And in this case, it doesn't look like the Supreme Court website is wrong about the date of the Oath - a New York Times article from December 9 (easily found through a Google News archive search) says that he took the Oath the preceding day and "immediately entered into the discharge of his duties." It seems pretty clear from the article that he was not acting in capacity as Justice until December 8.

There are two possible explanations. The first is that Roosevelt announced his nomination of Holmes during the Senate's recess in August, and withheld his appointment until Senate confirmation, as is the modern practice (as seen when Bush nominated Roberts to replace O'Connor during a Senate recess in July 2005, but did not appoint him until his confirmation (by this time to replace Rehnquist) on September 29). Years later, historians then falsely supposed that the headstrong Roosevelt would have appointed him rather than wait for the Senate to get back in session. The second possibility is that Roosevelt did appoint him in August, but the conscientious Holmes decided to hold off taking the Oath until after Senate confirmation. In favor of this view are newspaper reports of the original August 11 announcement that say that Roosevelt "appointed" Holmes. However, it is quite possible that the newspapers, unaware of the subtle distinction between nomination and appointment, merely used the wrong word and simply meant that Holmes had been nominated. The only way to really settle this is probably to dig up a copy of his commission and look at the date of issue at the bottom. One can probably be found in a 1902 US Reports volume.

If his commission dates from December 4-8, then he wasn't a recess apointment. If it dates from before that, I'm not sure how we count him in light of his refusal to take the Oath until after confirmation —Preceding unsigned comment added by Westbranch (talkcontribs) 22:45, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

We've had some discussion of this at Talk:Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.#Date of appointment, which includes input from one of Holmes's biographers. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 23:45, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Death/retirement observation[edit]

Sorry for the poor formatting. A number of justices list death as the reason for leaving the court but their death dates are later than their tenure (Justice T. Marshall for example but there are others).

The "State" column[edit]

What's the standard here? For a while, this article (for the most part) simply followed the official listing from the Supreme Court website [9] Then, on August 8, 2007, someone made many changes, some of which were corrected, but most of which are still in the article. The changes were for the most part listing the State the Justice is most commonly associated with (Like OH instead of CT for Taft or NJ instead of VA for Scalia). This page needs a standard for the "State" column, and I think there are three options

1. The state they're most associated with (as seen above) 2. The state they were actually residing in when appointed (this tends to create a lot of DCs, MDs, and VAs in the 20th century) 3. The state listed on the commission signed by the president, as seen here for example [10] (This is where the list on the Supreme Court website got its states from)

Since the state a Justice is most associated with can be debated, it's not a good standard, and since actual residence can be very hard to determine, it would be hard to do. That leaves the third option, which is what prevailed mostly before August 8. The only problem with this standard is that it itself has no universal standards. In 1969, despite his long association with Minnesota, Nixon wrote Virginia on Burger's commission, since he technically lived there at the time (this is discussed earlier up on this page). In 1991, however, despite his residence in Virginia, (and more recent residence in MD and MO) Bush wrote Georgia on Thomas' commission. Thomas explained that it was a meant as a gesture, having nothing to do with residence [11]

Despite these problems, I still think going by what's written on the commissions (which can be found in U.S. Reports if you don't trust the Supreme Court website list) is the best standard. Right now, that means changing Taft, Stone, Douglas, Marshall, Burger, and Scalia.Westbranch (talk) 20:55, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

"Retirement" versus "Death" as reason for departure of Justices[edit]

In the case of several Justices, including but not limited to Chief Justice Warren, Chief Justice Burger, Justice Brennan, Justice Marshall, Justice Powell, Justice White, and others, the reason for departure from the Court is listed as "death" rather than "retirement." Although I understand that this is a deliberate decision discussed in footnote 5, it is incorrect. All of these Justices retired from the Court several years before they died.

The confusion here arises from the fact that the federal judicial database refers to these Justices as having taken "senior status" upon retirement. Despite the wording of this database, the term "senior status" actually is used almost exclusively with respect to Justices of lower federal courts, not the Supreme Court. (This has been discussed on other talkpages; if it proves controversial, I'll try to find the link.) The term used for Supreme Court Justices is "Retired Justice" or "Justice, retired" and this is the designation used, for example, in the front matter of the United States Reports (and, more recently, on the Supreme Court website).

Confusion is engendered because a Justice who retires from the Supreme Court may continue to serve as a federal judge and therefore has not fully retired from judicial service. Specifically, retired Justices are permitted to serve "by designation" on U.S. Courts of Appeals or District Courts, and many have done so, including most recently Justice O'Connor who has sat on several Court of Appeals panels during the past couple of years. Indeed, the example of Justice O'Connor demonstrates that listing the other retired Justices as having left the Court only by reason of death is incorrect. If serving as a retired Justice were insufficient as a listing in the "reason for departure" column, then logically, since Justice O'Connor is currently serving as a retired Justice or in "senior status," then by that reasoning, she is still on the Court, since she hasn't fully retired. That obviously cannot be true (the Court has nine members, not ten) and hence the logic that only death can terminate the Supreme Court service of a retired ("senior status") Supreme Court Justice is must contain a fallacy.

If there are no objections, I will go ahead and fix up the table in a few days. If there are any concerns about this, let's discuss them here. Newyorkbrad (talk) 00:13, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Chronological numbering criteria?[edit]

What is the reason for the numbering of judges

February 2, 1790: #3(Cushing) & #4(Blair)

January 3, 1911: #63(Van Devanter) & #64(J. R. Lamar)

January 7, 1972: #99(Powell) & #100(Rehnquist)

because both of every pair assumed office on the same day (if the dates are right)?

Or did one of each pair take office earlier that day than the other one? (Or) Is there a source for this and it is only not named in this article?


Or is it here just (tried) to sort it in alphabetical order?
Or sorted by (the here unnamed) date of nomination for the office (but both the same in every pair case)?
Or sorted by (the here unnamed) date of confirmation for the office (only in the last pair case different)?


Or is it just a random order in this cases? (Why has it been sorted in that way it is now?)

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Justice Retirement Appointed by Reason for
3 Cushing, WilliamWilliam Cushing MA March 1, 1732–
September 13, 1810
February 2, 1790–
September 13, 1810
(none) (none) Washington death
4 Blair, JohnJohn Blair VA 1732–
August 31, 1800
February 2, 1790–
October 25, 1795
(none) (none) Washington resignation

63 Van Devanter, WillisWillis Van Devanter WY April 17, 1859–
February 8, 1941
January 3, 1911–
June 2, 1937
(none) June 2, 1937–
February 8, 1941
Taft resignation
64 Lamar, Joseph RuckerJoseph Rucker Lamar GA October 14, 1857–
January 2, 1916
January 3, 1911–
January 2, 1916
(none) (none) Taft death

99 Powell, LewisLewis Franklin Powell, Jr. VA September 19, 1907–
August 25, 1998
January 7, 1972–
June 26, 1987
(none) June 26, 1987–
August 25, 1998
Nixon retirement[1]
100 Rehnquist, WilliamWilliam Hubbs Rehnquist AZ/VA[2] October 1, 1924–
September 3, 2005
January 7, 1972–
September 3, 2005
September 26, 1986–
September 3, 2005
(none) Nixon (associate)
Reagan (chief)[3]
death :

Nominee Replacing Seat Rank Date of Submission to Senate Result Vote Date of Result President

William Cushing (new seat) AJ September 24, 1789 confirmed voice vote September 26, 1789 Washington John Blair (new seat) AJ September 24, 1789 confirmed voice vote September 26, 1789 Washington

Willis Van Devanter White AJ December 12, 1910 confirmed voice vote December 15, 1910 Taft Joseph Rucker Lamar Moody AJ December 12, 1910 confirmed voice vote December 15, 1910 Taft

Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. Black AJ October 22, 1971 confirmed 89–1 December 6, 1971 Nixon William Rehnquist Harlan AJ October 22, 1971 confirmed 68–26 December 10, 1971 Nixon —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:22, 12 January 2009 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference senior_death was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ In 1986, when elevated to Chief Justice, Rehnquist was appointed from Virginia[1]
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference aj2cj was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Proposition to Delete "Retirement" Column[edit]

Is there a purpose to the retirement column that I am overlooking? Invariably the dates in the column go from the date of the end of active service to the date of death. No other information is provided. Further, the information on whether the justice died in office or resigned is reflected in the "reason for termination column." In my opinion, the column does nothing but make things more confusing by adding extra dates, especially when scrolling past the top and below the column headings. I propose that the entire column be deleted. I really think it would make the chart much cleaner. I would be happy to do this, but do not want to act without an opinion. Thanks. Jf2 (talk) 07:59, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

I concur! (talk) 02:01, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
There is meaningful information there, but I think this table should not have a column for dates of retirement. It is too specific an idea, and not something interesting by which to sort the list. The "reason" column should have three ideas, 'death', 'resignation' (which was the only alternative to death prior to 1937), and 'retirement' (which means a judge served in a limited capacity, an option made available in 1937). Information about the retirement can be found on the judges' pages. Also, the "reason" should match what the judges' pages say. Jrkenti (talk) 02:07, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Addition of column of "sucession"[edit]

I think that a good addition to the chart/replacement for the possibly deleted "retirement" column would be a "succession" column. Almost all individual pages for justices show which justice they replaced. I think it would be very helpful to have that information on the chart. I was having a discussion with someone about which recent justices replaced which others. Having to click to each individual page was time consuming. Does anyone think that this would be a good addition. Does anyone agree? Thanks. Jf2 (talk) 07:59, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

We already have List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by seat, which serves that function. bd2412 T 08:20, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Having a 'seat' column in this chart would eliminate the need for that entire page, and would provide more information in a smaller space. I think the 'by seat' page should go away and this page should have an additional, narrow, column. Jrkenti (talk) 02:10, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Not entirely. Wouldn't we also need a column, then, to indicate which judge came after that judge, as well as which came before? bd2412 T 04:07, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
If you sort the list by "Active Service" you will see the order in which they were appointed, and then if you sort by "seat" you can see which justices replaced which justices, as the group of "Seat 4" will still be in their appointed order. I dont think other columns would be necessary to make this idea useful - but maybe I misunderstand you? Jrkenti (talk) 04:59, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
That might not be intuitive to the average reader. Of course, it eliminates the need for a predecessor/successor column as well, because just sorting by seat will reveal that information (although some explanation may be required for judges who sat in seats that were eliminated, and those who began in newly established seats). bd2412 T 05:40, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Appointments Section[edit]

This section was recently added, but I have deleted it for the following reasons: (1) it adds no new information to the article (the chart already shows us which President appointed each Justice), (2) it consisted entirely of an image of dubious utility which served no useful function, and (3) the idea behind the image was poorly executed, leaving off entirely the name of President Coolidge and cutting off the names of every Supreme Court Justice. Perhaps these problems can be remedied and the section can then be reinstated. (talk) 13:58, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Better Table?[edit]

This page formerly was listed as a featured page. It was removed because, among other things, it did not have pictures. I put together a new table that has pictures and can be sorted by 15 different ideas. It could potentially do away with the multitude of pages this page was broken up into so long ago (by seat, by education, by time in office) Do you want to give me some feed back? Should I finish? Jrkenti (talk) 06:06, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

i know it works nicely in firefox. the formatting of the table is very raw, i am aware it should use a template so the code is easier to readJrkenti (talk) 06:18, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
That's fantastic - is there any way to make the headers go at a slant, so they take up less space along the top? bd2412 T 17:18, 18 December 2009 (UTC) sure. Jrkenti (talk) 18:38, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, something like that would be better, since we would no longer need the columns themselves in the body of the table. bd2412 T 18:44, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
If someone has an idea of how to make, say, all the birthdays bold when the list is sorted by "Date of Birth" or how to make a special row "This seat was established on September 24, 1789 by the Judiciary Act of 1789 blah blah blah." appear when sorted by "Seat" that would be really great. Jrkenti (talk) 22:58, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Also, it seems to take a good 20 seconds to load. It is a long page of code, but it is just code, it is not really calling much (except AGE). If you know how to speed that up... Jrkenti (talk) 14:56, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

I believe that there should also be a column for "total years served" (or serving), which currently does not exist as a separate column. Somebody smarter than I am should proceed with such a code.Dtwedt (talk) 19:37, 17 February 2016 (UTC)

Justices or Judges?[edit]

Wikipedia has a number of articles dealing with Supreme Court "justices." Perhaps someone can tell me why they are called "justices" when the U.S. Constitution refers to them as judges. See Article II, s2 and Article III, s1. Is "justice" meant to be a superior term above the rank of "judge?" The office they hold under the Constitution is called judge, just like the president is called president in the Constitution. We should correct this mistake. Other countries call all their judges judges. New Zealand, for instance, calls its new Supreme Court's members "judges."-- (talk) 02:59, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

It is hardly a mistake, given the copious sources attesting to the well-established tradition of referring to judges of high courts throughout the United States as "Justices". There may be some article where this is worthy of mention or discussion, but this is not the place for it. bd2412 T 03:27, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Surely a discussion of the title of the article is in order. A more neutral title would be, "List of the Members of the Supreme Court of the United States." That would sidestep the issue, especially since the Supreme Court uses the term "member" on its own website, here.-- (talk) 10:14, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
There's no dispute here. "Justice" is just defined as a type of senior judge. It is a centuries-old term established in law and tradition to define the Supreme Court judges described by the Constitution.--Tim Thomason 13:30, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, the members of the United States' highest court have continuously been referred to as "Justice" since 1789. (Although, there was an amusing incident a few years back at an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. A lawyer addressed a Justice as "judge," the Justice pointed out that "we're usually addressed as 'Justice,'" and Justice Stevens reassured the lawyer, "don't worry. The Constitution makes the same mistake." Newyorkbrad (talk) 14:29, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Recent Deletions[edit]

The timelines have been on this page in some form about three years. I feel their removal should involve a discussion. I admit they got a bit busy recently, but I invited the Wiki community to revert that. The timelines provide users a very easy way to see the progression of the court - an idea the table does not provide.Jrkenti (talk) 20:08, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

I removed the timelines because they provide redundant information and were highlighted as a reason for delisting the article as a Featured List. With 111 justices, a timeline is inherently cramped and messy – especially with the already long list. Two or three separate timelines are required just to show all the information. Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't a place for them. If we're going to have them then a better page might be List of United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office: it's shorter and its scope is more appropriate for a timeline.
I'd like to get this list back to Featured status. I wrote a lead and added an appropriate image; neither was there before. I cleaned up some formatting issues with the table. I centered the dates and changed them to years only. Full dates aren't needed for a list like this, that's what the individual justices' pages are for. I also fixed the haphazard capitalization and replaced the various "N/A" and "None" notations with dashes.
A proposal to get rid of the Retirement column was made earlier and I think that might be something worth doing. After all, most of it is empty. Also, since there have been relatively few Chief Justices compared to Associate Justices, the dates in the "Term as Chief" column might be merged into the Active Service column. Most Chief Justices served their entire term as such. For those that were elevated from Associate to Chief, two dates could be given – in the same way as in their "Appointed By" column – with a small annotation.
I submitted the article for peer review and have gotten some good feedback there. Let me know what you think. Rorschach 21:08, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree with the proposed merging of the "Term as Chief" column. bd2412 T 01:14, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
  • That does appear to be a well thought out set of changes. I, too, think merging the chief column with the active column is a good idea. Also, I agree with scrapping the retirement column - it is not really important information. WRT getting the article relisted as featured, I had this same idea, but thought more information was better than less. I much rather prefer looking on one page for information than on six - which is kinda the case with Lists of US Supreme Court Justices. Take a look at this table (it takes a moment to load, and is suffering from a delete request) but it was my attempt at a more feature-worthy list. Thanks. Jrkenti (talk) 02:59, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
I do disagree with the timelines being redundant information, though. It is virtually impossible to visualize the progression of the court any other way. (The page listing the justices by court composition is not something one can visualize.) These timelines provide the only graphical depiction of the court - very complementary to a list. Please reconsider. Jrkenti (talk) 03:17, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
They are also the only place on Wikipedia where one can contrast the court composition to the presidency. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jrkenti (talkcontribs) 03:24, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
I just don't think more is inherently better. We should aim for conciseness –looking through, So maybe a good idea would be to decide what new information could be added to the page as a timeline. In other words, keep the timeline(s), but instead of simply showing when the justices served, show some different information that complements and adds to the list. I think that might be a good compromise between "delete them for redundancy" and "keep them in as they are."
I came up with an idea of having the a timeline included that shows not individual justices, but rather the timeline of the individual courts (ie, by Chief Justice - the Roberts Court, Rehnqhist Court, etc., as they are usually divided in common practice). This way we can include an alternative view of things without being too redundant and cluttered. You can see it here. It's something I did quickly as another option.
Let me know what you think about a compromise of including a timeline, but with different information. Rorschach 12:34, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
I feel confused. I really do feel more information is definitely better in the context of an encyclopedia. The entirety of timeline you proposed is just a small fraction of the information in the timeline you removed. The idea of a timeline of courts is a great idea for the Court Composition Page (I am very much in support of adding new ways of looking at data), but this page is where people will be looking for information - and interpretations of that information - about all the justices. I feel strongly that original timeline is a great and unique way to digest the progression of justices. For example - no where else can one quickly note that between 1810 and 1840 there seems to be little turnover of the court compared to other eras, or that John Marshall Harlan I and William O Douglas both outlasted the 10 justices appointed immediately after them (and others appointed later), whereas William Rehnquist did not outlast even one justice appointed after him, despite their serving similar term lengths.
If other Wikipedians are reading this, please do add your input.
On a separate note, I do understand the opposition to the list I created - it is too full of information. But for the process of getting this page relisted as a Featured List I feel it would be a good idea to direct the reader to some of the other lists (by seat, by term length, by court composition) in a more reader-friendly fashion than just via the "See Also" section. Perhaps there could be some links in the lead directing readers to those pages. That said, perhaps the timeline could be its own page? Jrkenti (talk) 20:12, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

As for combining some information in the table. If the cross (†) were redefined slightly, this would save a column. I would not be opposed to adding some information into that newly found space (term length, schooling...).

73 Stone, Harlan F.Harlan F. Stone NY 187210111872–1946 192503021925–1941
Roosevelt, F.


Fourteen of our 44 presidents were Masons, 8 of our ?? vice presidents were Masons, and 42 of our 112 Supreme Court Justices were Masons. That's a significant percentage of each group. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:22, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Full dates[edit]

I'd like to revisit this edit. I really don't like the fact that, without any discussion, Rorschach decided to remove all the full dates and just give years. The full dates are useful and informative, and while the list was somewhat hard to read in the previous format, I think the advantages of giving the full dates outweighed the disadvantages. At the very least, it's something that ought to have been talked about. john k (talk) 06:05, 6 January 2011 (UTC)


The state seems to be wrong for several of these. It was noted years ago that Burger, as a judge on the DC Circuit, could not have lived in Minnesota at the time of his nomination. The same is true for John Roberts, who I believe lived and lives in Maryland. The state that a person is from isn't some haphazard informality - it's actually a formal part of the nomination process. The Supreme Court website provides this information, and I am going to change it. john k (talk) 01:13, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Actually, Googling turns up the Index of Presidential Documents, which reflects that President Nixon nominated "Warren E. Burger, of Minnesota, to be Chief Justice...." So if that's what we should go by, then Minnesota would be correct for WEB. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 01:11, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

full dates[edit]

I think it would be useful to give the full dates, but I think the only way to do that in an aesthetically pleasing manner would be to change the column format, so that we have separate columns for start of service and end of service. I'd suggest making remove by removing the "time as chief justice" business, and simply having separate entries for those justices who served as both associate and chief, with some other indication of which ones were chiefs. I'm not sure how to do any of this, given the templates in use, so any help would be appreciated. I'd also say that, ideally, we would give both the date of the justice's commission and the date of their swearing in, since often these were widely separated in the early years, although I'm not sure where there is a good list of the dates of commissioning. Thoughts? john k (talk) 05:07, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Retire or resign[edit]

What distinguishes a justice that retires from one that resigns? Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 19:54, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

The precise requirements have varied over time, but in general, a Justice who chooses to leave the Court is permitted to retire rather than resign provided that he or she has met certain minimum requirements for age and time in office. A Justice may also retire rather than resign if the Chief Justice certifies that he or she is disabled from performing the duties of office (before there was general disability legislation, Congress would sometimes enact a special law allowing a Justice to retire). The principal difference between retiring and resigning is that a retired Justice continues to receive his or her salary, and is also permitted to serve on panels of lower federal courts if he or she wishes, whereas a resigned Justice is no longer a member of the judiciary at all. For more information, see Retired justices of the Supreme Court of the United States and senior judge. Newyorkbrad (talk) 00:28, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
Thank you, I had been wondering if there was any real difference. And thank you for putting the notice on my talk page - I had stopped watching this page. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 00:34, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

"Acting Chief Justice"[edit]

Returning to a topic that was discussed above, six and one-half years ago. Several of the footnotes to the list claim that after the death of a Chief Justice and until the Chief's successor took office, the then Senior Associate Justice served as "Acting Chief Justice."

It is undisputed that after the Chief Justice dies (or when the Chief Justice is absent or recused or whatever), the Senior Associate Justice "acts as Chief Justice." And if we want to note that in the footnotes for periods during which the Chief Justiceship was vacant, I have no issue with that.

However, the title Acting Chief Justice is not used in the U.S. Supreme Court and has never been used. Similar titles are used in some other courts (for example, Richard Simons was the Acting Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals in 1992-93), but not in the U.S. Supreme Court. If I have overlooked any official or other reliable sources using the term "Acting Chief Justice of the United States," please let me know.

Otherwise, unless there is objection here in the next few days, I will reword those footnotes. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 01:09, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

It says "acting chief justice" not "Acting Chief Justice." In my view it means "acting Chief Justice" which is clear and fine. I suggest you leave it. Or at least offer your proposed wording here so we can A/B it. jhawkinson (talk) 01:53, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
How about "... acted as chief justice"? Newyorkbrad (talk) 18:07, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
(I tweaked your quotation marks/italic markers a bit as they were confusing.)
Yes, I agree. Using the term "acting chief justice" is misleading and could stand to be improved. I'm not sure any of the "acting chief justice" footnotes are necessary at all. Is there a reason to have these footnotes instead of simply noting in the article lead that in times of a Chief Justice vacancy, the Senior Associate Justice serves as the head of the Court? --MZMcBride (talk) 08:59, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I suppose people might want to know who acted as chief justice, and if the article does not say who the senior associate justice was then they would be left to work it out for themselves without the footnotes, so they do serve a purpose. But I agree that "acting chief justice" is misleading, with or without capitals, and "acted as" is better. Richard75 (talk) 12:16, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. As a point of reference, the statute (28 U.S.C. § 3) provides: "Whenever the Chief Justice is unable to perform the duties of his office or the office is vacant, his powers and duties shall devolve upon the associate justice next in precedence who is able to act, until such disability is removed or another Chief Justice is appointed and duly qualified." Newyorkbrad (talk) 18:30, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

State again[edit]

User:Weather28540 just changed a bunch of entries in the State column. As far as I can tell, the change reflects the state of birth instead of state-where-they-lived (e.g. MA instead of NH for DHS), and I'm not really sure that is correct. Can anyone clarify what this column is intended to show, and update the article to make that clear? jhawkinson (talk) 08:16, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Weather28540 deleted the above comment, which frankly is not encouraging. I'm inclined to suspect vandalism but will give him time to explain his edits before I make up my mind. In the meantime I would point out that deleting material from the talk page goes against what the talk page is for. Richard75 (talk) 11:12, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Hearing nothing, it's been a week, I've reverted them. jhawkinson (talk) 05:17, 20 May 2013 (UTC)


Can someone add an "age" column to the chart? That is, the age when he/she became a Justice. Is that possible? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 22:30, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

Reformatting edit summary[edit]

I've made several formatting changes to the justices table: eliminated the multiple shaded rows, as the background shading impeded readability and recognition of Wikilinks, but made the rows for incumbent justices white, as a subtle visual cue (MOS:COLOR); moved Born–died column info to justices’ name column, to save vertical space; added a column showing who each justice replaced, viewed this as worthwhile information to add; added a column showing the Senate confirmation date and the vote, viewed this as worthwhile information to add; renamed Active service column to Tenure and also moved the Reason for termination column information to the Tenure column, to save vertical space; added a column showing the length of tenure for each associate and each chief justice, viewed this as worthwhile information to add; renamed Chief Justice column to Position and noted whether a justice was appointed as associate justice or chief justice; listed justices elevated from associate justice to chief justice while serving on the Court twice in the table, because these represent separate appointments and are subject to a separate confirmation process (however, each of them has been assigned only one index number); moved the lengthy note about more-recent justices voluntarily leaving the Court by retiring to the introduction; added source citations covering the information in the table; and, moved the Notes section from the bottom of page to right below table as a subsection, as these notes are specific to this table only. Drdpw (talk) 21:04, 14 November 2016 (UTC)

All of these seem like reasonable changes except: once a viewer changes the sorting by clicking on one of the sort buttons, it seems that it is impossible to return to the index order since that column is not sortable and neither is the Senate confirmation date. Of course, the user can reload the page to return to the initial state, but it seems that the index column should be sortable too. Randy Schutt (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 21:19, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. Using the tenure column sortkey restores the table to the default order, perhaps using the confirmation date key would have been better; I can certainly rectify that. Drdpw (talk) 21:38, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
Yes, of course, I should have seen this. In the Tenure field, if you used a format of MMM. DD, YYYY such as Oct. 18, 1991, you could probably put the dash separating the dates on the same line as the first address and reduce the vertical height of the table by one line. Randy Schutt (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 03:54, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
To the colour issue, it is difficult for me to distinguish the white and grey rows. Could just the left-most number column not have a background with a more distinctive colour for the current justices? That would avoid the visual issues with wikilinks on background colours. --Inops (talk) 18:27, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. Would it work to bold the lines of information on the current justices? Drdpw (talk) 18:42, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
I suppose it would. Thanks. --Inops (talk) 19:16, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

UPDATE: The "Date confirmed" column is now sortable, and the current SC members' information is now in bold. Does this work to set apart the current justices from the rest, or would something like a (very) pale yellow be better?
I have also removed the outdated group photo of justices, replacing it with a gallery of photos of the current justices. Is this change a "+" (or not)? Drdpw (talk) 00:33, 26 November 2016 (UTC)