Talk:List of United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office

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Featured list List of United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office is a featured list, which means it has been identified as one of the best lists produced by the Wikipedia community. If you can update or improve it, please do so.
January 10, 2008 Featured list candidate Promoted


This article seems to be using the + symbol for both "combined service" and "died in office". We should decide on another symbol for one of these roles. -- Pakaran 02:37, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Huh? What are you talking about?
DLJessup (talk) 14:01, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Never mind, I was confused since Reinquist had that symbol in 2 different places. -- Pakaran 01:29, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Compliments to whoever did the work on this page. Very, very well executed. Hydriotaphia 07:20, 20 February 2007 (UTC)


The Supreme Court website says he was never a justice: [1]. Does anyone object to removing him from this list? Coemgenus 13:11, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, according to his article he took the oath of office on his deathbed, so he actually served a few hours (0 days). However, I think the official website of Supreme Court is more credible source than Wiki, so we should remove him from the list EPWA airport 16:12, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

I was going to make a notation here about removing Stanton; apologies if I overstepped in not checking the talk page first. But I believe he has been added before only to be removed because, though he was confirmed, he never really served. Again, apologies if I should have consulted before removing him, but like you two, I do think it is the clearly correct decision. 03:14, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
No one's objected yet to removing him, so I think it will be OK. I was willing to leave hium until I saw the Supreme Court website. Coemgenus 10:44, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Lamar and Whittaker[edit]

They both served for the same number of days apparently. And while Lamar would come first if they were listed either chronologically or alphabetically (by last name), shouldn't we have some way of indicating that they are "tied" for length of service, rather than arbitrarily making Lamar the 94th longest-serving Justice and Whittaker the 95th? Or do we have some especial reason to believe that Lamar served some hours or minutes longer than Whittaker? (talk) 15:14, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

I changed it to reflect that they were tied for 94th. It doesn't seem to create any problem with the sorting. Coemgenus 15:41, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Tree Map of Retired Supreme Court[edit]

What purpose does this map serve? It is not at all obvious to me what it is meant to convey. Knowing the president that appointed the justice can be shown much more cleanly by just adding a column to the main table. We already know length of service, so the color coding doesn't really help. And if there is some x-y coordinate graphing that determines the placement of names on the chart, how does it work? --Wolfram.Tungsten (talk) 21:31, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree. It's confusing and the only information it adds (the President who appointed the Justices) is available here already. Coemgenus 22:37, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Where will JPS be on his 90th B-day?[edit]

John Paul Stevens, born April 20, 1920, will be just over 90 years old on April 21st.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (b. March 8, 1841 – d.March 6, 1935)

  1. 15 Holmes, Oliver Wendell 10,627 days in office December 8, 1902–January 12, 1932

January 12, 1932 minus March 8, 1841 is +/- of 91 years, I make it 90 years, 10.1355 months.

Does anybody know how to calculate the date that SPS will be the same age that OWH was when he retired?
LP-mn (talk) 07:26, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it looks like OWH was 90 years, 10 months, 4 days old when he retired. For Stevens, that will be on 24 Feb 2011. He will have 12851 days on the court then, #2 tenure, if he stays that long. --Wolfram.Tungsten (talk) 17:56, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Combine with Chief Justice Page[edit]

There is a page devoted to the length of service of chief justices (which has virtually no discussions) and this page, which is devoted to the length of service of all justices. The two seem they should be sections of ONE page. Jrkenti (talk) 21:19, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Sure, makes sense to me. Go for it. --Coemgenus 11:27, 2 March 2010 (UTC)


The navbox pushes the pictures way down beyond the bottom of the text. Why do we need it? Wouldn't some kind of horizontal navbox at the bottom be better, since it wouldn't make the page a mess? The list managed to get featured status without the navbox, so i think it can survive without it. Coemgenus 00:10, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't care much either way; my change with the "better?" edit summary was primarily to stop the truly ruinous experiments and get some breathing room. Fat&Happy (talk) 00:33, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Modifying the "don't care much"; I agree it pushes the pix too far down and would be better without, but I can live with it as is. Fat&Happy (talk) 00:35, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
A little more checking and comparing. I don't see why {{SCOTUS horizontal}} wouldn't be perfectly adequate, but there are a couple of things that could be changed to bring the two more in sync. (Stevens is the primary one, maybe the auxiliary groups like SC police.) Fat&Happy (talk) 00:50, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
FatHappy, my second revision was a different effort to avoid pushing the images so far down. What exactly was so terrible about it? Jrkenti (talk) 04:30, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the relevant phrase in Coemgenus's edit summary on the original reversion was "some monitors", as I learned emphatically when I looked back to refresh my memory to answer you. On the machine I was using just then, it merely looked a little ugly, compressing the table horizontally and leaving a large chunk of whitespace on the right side of the page below the infobox. On the machine I was using originally, both your first and second attempts had very similar results, pushing the top of the table down so it started below the last picture, leaving a large part of the center blank. Fat&Happy (talk) 04:53, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I had the same result -- a little ugly on one computer, horrible on the other. I'll put in that other navbox and see what happens. Coemgenus 12:54, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
fair enough, what OS/browser/resolution are you using? I thought I was being generous with the window width. Jrkenti (talk) 15:23, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
"merely ugly" – XP; screen resolution = 1920 x 1200; FF browser size ~= 1113 x 777
"pretty awful" – XP; screen resolution = 1280 x 1024; FF browser size ~= 1033 x 698
Fat&Happy (talk) 19:06, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Balance in conservatives and liberals[edit]

I notice there are 6 recent liberal and no recent conservative justices pictured in this article. Is there a reason for that, or can I remove 3 of the liberals with photos of 3 conservative justices without massive objection? Rodchen (talk) 21:20, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

A brief perusal of the captions, combined with a recognition of the subject of the article (List of United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office), might lead one to believe the twelve justices pictured represent the six longest-serving and six shortest-serving at this time. I'm sure that an attempt to choose the justices by ideology rather than tenure would meet with some objection. Fat&Happy (talk) 21:42, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
That's the reason exactly. When there's a Republican president someday, his nominees will make their appearance at the bottom of the list and among the pictures. And if Scalia enters the top 5 (a long way off) his pic will join the sidebar. --Coemgenus 22:26, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Yep, and as proof: back in early 2006, when they were both new justices, the page showed pictures of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Also, there's currently a pair of hidden notes that say: "<!--Restore Goldberg's picture once Kagan passes him on May 31, 2013.--><!--Restore Jackson's picture once Sotomayor passes him on January 12, 2012.-->" when you try to edit the pictures. OCNative (talk) 05:10, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure why it needs to be top six and bottom six. I think it could just as well be top six and bottom four, and squeeze in the two longest serving current Justices (currently Scalia and Kennedy) in the middle. Scalia is in good health and could very well serve another eight and a half years, thereby making his way into the top six, at which point the next longest serving active Justice (Thomas) could be moved up the list. bd2412 T 02:50, 22 February 2012 (UTC)


A "last updated" date would be an improvement. The list gets to be out of date at times. With a note on when the article was updated, the reader could calculate any differences. Now readers will almost never be able to rely on the time served of active judges. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Carlfromkennesaw2 (talkcontribs) 03:29, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

The time in office updates automatically, so it's never out of date. Only the position on the chart needs to be changed manually, and several editors do so regularly. --Coemgenus (talk) 13:25, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

But today is day 9609 since Scalia became a justice. The site sats 9603 as of 20 minutes ago. It often gets a couple days out of date. If you check regularly, you will notice this. If you don't care, I guess that is okay. I'm sorry if I'm upsetting anyone. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:30B:8249:36B9:187C:AA9E:A52E:2F9E (talk) 11:12, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

It shows 9609 on my screen. Try refreshing your browser. --Coemgenus (talk) 13:25, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

The Current Court[edit]

This new section shows who is on the court, their faces, and their tenures all in a compact place. I find it useful. Others will too. Wolfram.Tungsten (talk) 00:28, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Your addition is problematic because the manner in which you inserted it has caused massive empty space within the article. Instead of finding a solution to that problem, you suggested widening the we cannot. My browser is set at the default setting and in Chrome, Firefox and Safari, the same issue exists. We need to keep the article cohesive to the default settings of the browsers, not force people to change the magnification in order to have the effect you want them to have. Your addition doesn't work as provided and it should be re-worked before adding it back in. I do think it would be useful to see the current court on the side especially, being as though they are higher on the list than those currently displayed. Teammm talk
00:46, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

William Cushing as Chief Justice?[edit]

Jeremylinvip has recently changed a few articles to make the claim that Cushing should be considered a Chief Justice; these changes have been reverted by myself and Coemgenus as disputed. The edits were based on one new source,[2] which even if it merits use in our articles, needs to be integrated into the existing content rather than supplanting it. In other words, we can't automatically give more weight to one new source over all others. So let's discuss that here. @Jeremylinvip: make your case, please, and explain the changes you think should be made to accommodate this new source. postdlf (talk) 15:58, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

In my opinion, a footnote should suffice. Chushing is generally not counted as a Chief Justice, so it makes sense to limit the list to those who were incontrovertibly Chief Justice, and throw an asterisk to the questionable case. bd2412 T 16:12, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
The paper is available on SSRN: I'm just starting to read it, but my sense is that until historians accept Davies' position we shouldn't change the list Mackensen (talk) 16:15, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Davies himself says (p. 130) that the "accepted status quo" is that Cushing was merely acting Chief Justice (as he had before and would be again) and not actually Chief Justice. Mackensen (talk) 16:37, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree that Cushing should not be listed as Chief Justice. Davies' article concedes that Court's roster does not list Cushing as Chief Justice; he writes, "[on] its Court Roster of current and former members, the Supreme Court does not list William Cushing as the third Chief Justice of the United States." Ross E. Davies, William Cushing, Chief Justice of the United States, 37 U. Tol. L. Rev. 597 (2006). -- Notecardforfree (talk) 17:02, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. That was the same reasoning we used years ago when we didn't add Edwin Stanton to the list, even though he took the oath before he died. --Coemgenus (talk) 17:14, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Chushing was not CJ, per Notecard and Mackensen's comments on Davies; agree with BD on an asterisk. GregJackP Boomer! 17:57, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

"The answer lies in the treatment of John Rutledge, whose Chief-Justiceship also was ignored until the 1850s, when two biographers gathered the evidence and made the case for his occupation of that office. The language used by President Washington and the Senate during the appointment process for Cushing's successor, Oliver Ellsworth, reveals that the executive and legislative branches understood Cushing to have been Chief Justice. In particular, they used the word resigned to describe Cushing's departure from the Chief-Justiceship." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jeremylinvip (talkcontribs) 20:54, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

@Jeremylinvip: I assume that's from the same source? Dumping a quote here without explanation or context is not discussion. And please use ~~~~ to sign your posts. postdlf (talk) 13:17, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

Time in office[edit]

The current chart indicates time in office as a total number of days. Can this be amended to either: (A) be calculated as "years" instead of "days"; or (B) include a parenthetical that converts the days to years (for example: "13,358 days (36 years and 7 months)" or such)? For the most part, readers do not have any intuitive sense of what these numbers (of days) mean. Collectively, we do not "know" how much 13,358 days is equal to (in years). In other words, time-periods such as "13,358 days" are essentially void of any meaning to the average person. It would be better to explicitly state the number of years. Thoughts? Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 00:47, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

It might be technically possible, but I think we originally did days because a year isn't an exact multiple of days (sometimes 365, sometimes 366). --Coemgenus (talk) 13:52, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
It must be possible, as I have seen it in many other articles. And it is irrelevant if a year is 365 or 366 days. For example, from July 17th of 2012 to July 17th of 2013 is considered a "year", regardless if it's a normal year or a leap year. It's still a year. The 365/366 distinction is trivial. More importantly, as humans, we do not intuitively "know" or "understand" what the phrase 13,358 days means. It's actually a pretty meaningless number (without any context such as, for example, its equivalent in "years"). But we can -- and do -- understand "36 years and 7 months". Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 07:33, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
By the way, I just took a closer look at the chart. Someone has actually manually calculated the number of days! That's crazy. We have a Wikipedia template that does all the math calculations for us. I will search and see its exact title. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 07:36, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
Here it is: Template:Age in years and months. And, on that page, there are many other "age" variations from which to choose. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 07:40, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, that's a useful template. I wish it had existed when I rewrote this article in 2007. Might have saved me some time. --Coemgenus (talk) 13:57, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
Oh, you wrote this article? Thanks. Great article! I may go in and change the templates, one by one. If and when I have free time. Thanks again. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 08:34, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
I would love it if this could be two separate columns, one of which would say, for example, 13,358 days and the other would say 36 years and however many months and days. I enjoy seeing both types of information, and suspect other users might too. Cluecoast (talk) 00:11, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I am curious. Why do you find the "13,358 days" notation helpful? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 08:33, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
Because it is more exact, and so you can see when one Justice ought to move up in rank. Cluecoast (talk) 13:05, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 20:22, 16 February 2016 (UTC)

List of United States Supreme Court Justices by age[edit]

I am thinking of creating an article entitled List of United States Supreme Court Justices by age. So I have two questions. (Question 1) Do you think that would be best as a separate article? Or simply as an additional column ("age") in this article? (Question 2): What should I use as the "beginning date" for their commencement of office? Does the justice officially become a justice on the date of the Senate confirmation? On the date that the court first convenes? Is there some separate swearing-in ceremony? When does he/she officially become a Supreme Court justice? Also, a third question I just thought of. (Question 3): If I were to create a chart for "age when they became a Justice", what would be the easiest date to research? Date of Senate confirmation, date of court convening for the first time, or date of swearing-in ceremony? Thanks. Any thoughts? Ideas? Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 08:40, 16 February 2016 (UTC)