Supreme Court Justices

When the Judiciary Act of 1789 created the U.S. Supreme Court, it consisted of six members: a Chief Justice and five Associate Justices. Over the next several decades, the size of the Court fluctuated before settling at its current size of nine members with the Judiciary Act of 1869.

Under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the President nominates a candidate when a vacancy opens on the Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee then considers the nomination. After a pre-hearing investigative stage, it will hold public hearings at which the nominee testifies. These hearings provide insight into the qualifications, background, and judicial philosophy of the nominee, among other matters.

The Judiciary Committee will decide whether to report the nomination favorably to the full Senate, report it unfavorably, or report it without a recommendation. The full Senate will vote on whether to confirm or reject the nominee. (No nominee has been rejected in a Senate vote since 1987, when the Senate rejected Robert Bork after he had been nominated by President Ronald Reagan.) If a nominee is confirmed, they will receive their commission and take two oaths before starting to perform their duties. These are the oath required of federal officials under Article VI of the Constitution, as well as an oath required by the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The Constitution allows a President to appoint a Justice while the Senate is in recess. The Senate still must decide whether to confirm the Justice when it reconvenes. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed three Supreme Court Justices through this method, including Chief Justice Earl Warren. However, recess appointments have been disfavored since then.

At first, the membership of the Court consisted entirely of white Protestant males. Here are some of the pathbreaking Justices whose appointments helped add diversity to the Court:

Justices generally may hold tenure for life, as long as they maintain “good behavior.” Their salaries may not be reduced while they are in office. In theory, a Justice may be removed if they are impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate. Justice Samuel Chase was impeached by the House in 1804, but he was acquitted by the Senate a year later. Chase is the only Justice to have been impeached, and no Justice has ever been removed.

The current Justices on the Supreme Court are:

Justice Joined Court Nominated By Previous Position
John Roberts (Chief Justice) September 29, 2005 George W. Bush (R) D.C. Circuit Judge
Clarence Thomas October 23, 1991 George H.W. Bush (R) D.C. Circuit Judge
Samuel Alito January 31, 2006 George W. Bush (R) Third Circuit Judge
Sonia Sotomayor August 8, 2009 Barack Obama (D) Second Circuit Judge
Elena Kagan August 7, 2010 Barack Obama (D) U.S. Solicitor General
Neil Gorsuch April 10, 2017 Donald Trump (R) Tenth Circuit Judge
Brett Kavanaugh October 6, 2018 Donald Trump (R) D.C. Circuit Judge
Amy Coney Barrett October 27, 2020 Donald Trump (R) Seventh Circuit Judge
Ketanji Brown Jackson June 30, 2022 Joseph Biden (D) D.C. Circuit Judge

Below is a list of the Supreme Court Justices who served on the Court of each Chief Justice. (Note that many Associate Justices served with more than one Chief Justice and thus appear more than once here.)

John Roberts Court (2005-present)
William Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
Warren Burger Court (1969-1986)
Earl Warren Court (1953-1969)
Fred M. Vinson Court (1946-1953)
Harlan Fiske Stone Court (1941-1946)
Charles Evans Hughes Court (1930-1941)
William Howard Taft Court (1921-1930)
Edward Douglass White Court (1910-1921)
Melville Weston Fuller Court (1888-1910)
Morrison R. Waite Court (1873-1888)
Salmon Portland Chase Court (1864-1873)
Roger Brooke Taney Court (1836-1864)
John Marshall Court (1801-1835)
Oliver Ellsworth Court (1796-1800)
John Rutledge Court (1795)
John Jay Court (1789-1795)