The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest-ranking judicial body in the country and is recognized as the court of last resort in the United States. Currently, there are nine United States Supreme Court Justices on the highest court in the land.

The following student guide provides background information, including demographics, and speaks to the history of the Court and the Justices of the Court.

What Types of Cases go to the U.S. Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court chooses which cases that it wants to hear and decide.  The types of cases range vary from a variety of constitutional law matters to cases considered to be of high public importance.  This includes cases regarding taxation, immigration, freedom of speech, defective products, personal injury, and criminal matters.

Many cases involve employment law issues and matters involving discrimination.  This includes discrimination based upon race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Cases in which the United States is a party often go to the Supreme Court.  The same is for cases between different states or cases involving ambassadors.

How does Someone become a Supreme Court Justice?

There are a total of nine judges on the U.S. Supreme Court.  When a position becomes open due to the death or resignation of a sitting judge, the President can appoint a person to the position.  This is often a highly contested appointment because these judges can shape the law for the land for a very long time.

Most of these appointments are political in nature, meaning the President chooses to appoint someone who will make decisions based upon political and ideological beliefs.  As such, the bench is not always considered impartial, or fair, because there is often a political agenda behind a court ruling.

After an appointment is made by the President, there are hearings in the Senate to approve the candidate for the position.  If, after the hearing, the Senate confirms the appointment the new justice is sworn into office.  It is a lifetime appointment and therefore very important to the separation of powers of our government.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Background Information

The Constitution states that the Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction means that the Supreme Court is the first, and only, Court to hear a case.

The Constitution limits original jurisdiction cases to those involving disputes between the states or disputes arising among ambassadors and other high-ranking ministers.

Appellate jurisdiction means that the Court has the authority to review the decisions of lower courts. Most of the cases the Supreme Court hears are appeals from lower courts.

Many cases that the Court reviews concern the U.S. Constitution, and the Court’s decisions have far-reaching implications for the citizenry and the history of the United States.

Few other courts in the world have the same authority of constitutional interpretation and none have exercised it for as long or with as much influence.

What is the Total Number of Supreme Court Judges?

  • The Supreme Court has nine (9) Justices: one (1) Chief Justice and eight (8) Associate Justices.
  • There have been a total of 115 Justices as of October 2021.
  • In total, there have been 17 Chief Justices and 103 Associate Justices
  • Five (5) judges have served as both chief and associate justice: John Rutledge, Edward Douglass White, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan Fiske Stone, William H. Rehnquist.

Which States Provide the Most Supreme Court Justices?

Historically, Supreme Court Justices have come from the following states:

U.S. Supreme Court Justices By State Chart - Buckfire Law

Alabama: 3Arizona: 2California: 4
Colorado: 2Connecticut: 3Georgia: 4
Iowa: 2Illinois: 4Indiana: 1
Kentucky: 5Louisiana: 2Massachusetts: 10
Maryland: 6Maine: 1Michigan: 2
Minnesota: 2Massachusetts: 1Mississippi: 1
North Carolina: 2New Hampshire: 2New Jersey: 5
New York: 15Ohio: 9Pennsylvania: 6
South Carolina: 3Tennessee: 6Texas: 1
Utah: 1Virginia: 9Wyoming: 1

How many Women have been Supreme Court Justices?

Total Number of Men vs. Total Number of Women

*No woman has served as a U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice

Supreme Court Justices by Gender Chart - Buckfire Law

First Woman: Sandra Day O’Connor (1981-2006)

Only five women have served as Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Justice O’Connor made history when she became the first woman to serve the Court in 1981.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg
  • Elena Kagan
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Amy Coney Barrett

Female Supreme Court Justices - Women Judges

Supreme Court Justices by Race/Ethnicity

As of January 2021, there are currently:

  • Seven (7) Caucasian Supreme Court Justices and two (2) non-Caucasian Supreme Court Justices.
  • Clarence Thomas is the only African American Justice currently serving.
  • Sonia Sotomayor is the first and only Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
  • Eight percent of the Supreme Court Justices are Caucasian — 22.2% are non-Caucasian.


  • 112 Caucasian Supreme Court Justices and three (3) non-Caucasian Supreme Court Justices.
  • Two (2) African American Justices: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.
  • 99% of Supreme Court Justices have been Caucasian.

Supreme Court Justices Race Ethnicity Chart - Buckfire Law

Were any Judges Born Outside of the United States?

All current Supreme Court Justices have been born in the United States. Historically, six (6) Justices were born outside of the U.S.:

  • James Wilson (1789-1798), born in Caskardy, Scotland
  • James Iredell (1790-1799), born in Lewes, England
  • William Paterson (1793-1806), born in County Antrim, Ireland
  • David J. Brewer (1889-1910), born in Smyrna, Turkey
  • George Sutherland (1922-1939), born in Buckinghamshire, England
  • Felix Frankfurter (1939-1962), born in Vienna, Austria

What is the  Longest Term for a Supreme Court Justice?

Longest terms among current Supreme Court Justices (as of Oct. 19, 2021):

Current Supreme Court Justices Longest Term - Buckfire Law

Longest terms served among all Supreme Court Justices (as of Dec. 31, 2019):
Supreme Court JusticeTotal Days Served
William O.Douglas*13,358
Stephen Johnson Field12,614
John Paul Stevens12,611
John Marshall**12,570
Hugo Black12,447
John Marshall Harlan12,360
William J. Brennan, Jr.12,330
William Rehnquist12,293
Joseph Story12,273
James Moore Wayne11,860

*William O. Douglas is the longest-serving associate justice.

**John Marshall is the longest-serving chief justice.

Shortest terms served among all Supreme Court Justices (excluding current Supreme Court Justices):
Supreme Court JusticeTotal Days Served
James F. Byrnes452
Thomas Johnson*478
John Rutledge521
Robert Trimble801
Howell Edmunds Jackson887
Arthur Goldberg1,028
Abe Fortas1,318
Alfred Moore1,375
William Henry Moody1,434

*Thomas Johnson is oftentimes considered the shortest-serving judge, but under a temporary recess appointment, he served one month and three days more than Justice Byrnes.

Average terms served among all Supreme Court Justices (as of Dec. 31, 2019):


  • Supreme Court Justices have served an average term of 16 years.
  • Prior to 1970, Supreme Court Justices served an average term of 14.9 years.
  • Post 1970, Supreme Court Justices have served an average term of 26.1 years.


  • The five (5) most recently appointed Supreme Court Justices to leave the court have served an average of 27.5 years.

Which President Appointed the Most Judges?

Current Supreme Court Justices have been appointed by the following presidents (in order of most appointments):

Current Supreme Court Justices appointed by Presidents chart - Buckfire Law

The most Supreme Court Justice appointments have been given by the following presidents:

  1. George Washington, 10
    1. John Jay (CJ)
    2. John Rutledge (AJ + CJ)
    3. William Cushing
    4. James Wilson
    5. John Blair, Jr.
    6. James Iredell
    7. Thomas Johnson
    8. William Paterson
    9. Samuel Chase
    10. Oliver Elsworth (CJ)
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 9
    1. Hugo Black
    2. Stanley Forman Reed
    3. Felix Frankfurter
    4. William O. Douglas
    5. Frank Murphy
    6. Harlan F. Stone (CJ)
    7. James F. Byrnes
    8. Robert H. Jackson
    9. Wiley Blount Rutledge
  3. Andrew Jackson, 6
    1. John McLean
    2. Henry Baldwin
    3. James Moore Wayne
    4. Roger Brooke Taney
    5. Philip P. Barbour
    6. John Catron
  4. William Howard Taft, 6
    1. Horace Harmon Lurton
    2. Charles Evans Hughes
    3. Edward D. White (CJ)
    4. Willis Van Devanter
    5. Joseph Rucker Lamar
    6. Mahlon Pitney
  5. Abraham Lincoln, 5
    1. Noah Haynes Swayne
    2. Samual Freeman Miller
    3. David Davis
    4. Stephen Johnson Field
    5. Salmon P. Chase (CJ)
  6. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 5
    1. Earl Warren (CJ)
    2. John Marshall Harlan II
    3. William J. Brennan Jr.
    4. Charles Evans Whittaker
    5. Potter Stewart

Supreme Court Justices Appointed By President Chart - Buckfire Law

The following presidents did not appoint any Supreme Court Justices during their presidency:

  • William Henry Harrison
  • Zachary Taylor
  • Andrew Johnson

What Religions are the Supreme Court Judges?

Currently, there are:

  • Six (6) Catholic Supreme Court Justices
  • Two (2) Jewish Supreme Court Justices
  • One (1) Episcopalian Supreme Court Justice

Historically, there have been:

Supreme Court Justices by Religion Chart - Buckfire Law

  • 33 Episcopalian Supreme Court Justices
  • 19 Presbyterian Supreme Court Justices.
  • 17 Supreme Court Justices have unclear religious denominations.
  • 13 Protestant Supreme Court Justices.
  • 14 Catholic Supreme Court Justices.
  • 9 Unitarian Supreme Court Justices.
  • 8 Jewish Supreme Court Justices.
  • 1 Supreme Court Justice has no religious affiliation.

*Of the 17 Supreme Court Chief Justices: 14 have been Protestant, three have been Catholic.

Supreme Court Justices’ Age at Appointment

Current Supreme Court Justices’ ages at appointment:

Current Supreme Court Justices Age at Appointment Chart - Buckfire Law

Historically, the 10 oldest Supreme Court Justices to be appointed are:
Supreme Court JusticeAge at Retirement
Harlan Fiske Stone68
Charles Evans Hughes67
Horace Harmon Lurton65
Edward Douglass White65
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.64
William Cushing63
William Howard Taft63
Ward Hunt62
Samuel Blatchford62
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II62

The average age of a Supreme Court Justice at the time of appointment is 53 years.

Historically, the 10 youngest Supreme Court Justices to be appointment are:
Supreme Court JusticeAge at Appointment
William Johnson32
Joseph Story32
Bushrod Washington36
James Iredell38
William O. Douglas40
John A. Campbell41
Thomas Todd42
Benjamin R. Curtis42
John Jay43
John McLean43

Supreme Court Justices’ Age at Retirement

In total, 40 Supreme Court Justices have retired.

The 10 oldest Supreme Court Justices at retirement are as follows:
Supreme Court JusticeAge at Retirement
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.90
John Paul Stevens90
Henry Blackmun86
Hugo Lafayette Black85
William Joseph Brennan, Jr.84
Thurgood Marshall83
Louis Dembitz Brandeis82
Joseph McKenna82
Anthony McLeod Kennedy82
Stephen Johnson Field81

The average age for a Supreme Court Justice at the time of retirement is 69 years old.

The 10 youngest Supreme Court Justices at retirement are as follows:
Supreme Court JusticeAge at Retirement
William Henry Moody57
Charles Evans Whittaker61
John Hessin Clarke65
Sherman Minton66
Potter Stewart66
Tom C. Clark68
Henry Billings Brown70
Harold Hitz Burton70
David Souter70
George Shiras, Jr.71

Supreme Court Justices’ Age at Resignation

In total, 17 Supreme Court Justices have resigned. The 10 youngest to resign are as follows:

Supreme Court JusticeAge at Retirement
Benjamin Robbins Curtis47
Alfred Moore48
John Jay49
John Archibald Campbell49
John Rutledge*52
Charles Evans Hughes**54
Oliver Ellsworth55
John Rutledge55
Arthur Goldberg57
Abe Fortas59

*John Rutledge resigned as an Associate Justice at age 52, and resigned as a Chief Justice at age 55.

*Charles Evans Huges resigned as an Associate Justice at age 54, and retired as a Chief Justice at age 79.

What are the Birth Months of the Supreme Court Justices?

Historically, Supreme Court Justices have been born in the following months:

Supreme Court Justices Birth Month Chart - Buckfire Law

What Universities Produced the Most Supreme Court Judges?

The current members of the Supreme Court have graduated from the following universities:

Supreme Court JusticeUndergradLaw School
Brett KavanaughYaleYale
Neil GorsuchColumbiaHarvard
Elena KaganPrincetonHarvard
Sonia SotomayorPrincetonYale
Samuel AlitoPrincetonYale
John RobertsHarvardHarvard
Stephen BreyerStanfordHarvard
Amy Coney BarretRhodes CollegeNotre Dame
Clarence ThomasHoly CrossYale
Historically, the five law schools where the most Supreme Court Justices have attended are as follows:

Supreme Court Justices Law Schools Chart - Buckfire Law

Supreme Court Justices: Lawyers vs. Non-Lawyers

  • Each of the current Supreme Court Justices were lawyers.
  • Historically, only two Supreme Court Justices have not been lawyers
    • James F. Byrnes (left)
    • Robert H. Jackson (right)

John Byrnes Robert Jackson - Supreme Court Justices - Buckfire Law

What Political Party has the most Supreme Court Justices?

  • There are currently three (3) Supreme Court Justices who are Democrats.
  • There are currently six (6) Supreme Court Justices who are Republicans.
Historically, Supreme Court Justices have been affiliated with the following political party:

Supreme Court Justice Historical Political Party Affiliations Chart - Buckfire Law

How much Money Does a Supreme Court Judge Get Paid?

The line chart below details the salaries of Supreme Court Associate Justices, the Chief Justice and the U.S. President during a given year:

Supreme Court Justice & Presidential Salary Chart - Buckfire Law

YearChief JusticeAssociate JusticesPresident

Have any Supreme Court Justices been Impeached?

Only one (1) Supreme Court Justice has been impeached. Samuel Chase was impeached in 1804.  The  U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach him claiming he acted in a partisan manner in deciding several trials.  Essentially, the claim was that he was not acting as an independent and impartial judge.

However, in 1805 Chase was acquitted by the Senate.  This decision helped safeguard the independence of the judiciary. He served on the court until his death in 1811.

Which Supreme Court Justices Died in Office?

In total, 50 Supreme Court Justices have died in office. The list below outlines the justices below who have died in office, based on when each Justice entered office:

  • William Cushing – 1810
  • James Wilson – 1798
  • James Iredell – 1799
  • William Paterson- 1806
  • Samuel Chase- 1811
  • Bushrod Washington- 1829
  • John Marshall- 1835
  • William Johnson – 1834
  • Henry Brockholst Livingston- 1823
  • Thomas Todd – 1826
  • Joseph Story – 1845
  • Smith Thompson – 1843
  • Robert Trimble – 1828
  • John McLean – 1861
  • Henry Baldwin – 1844
  • James Moore Wayne – 1867
  • Roger B. Taney – 1864
  • Philip Pendleton Barbour – 1841
  • John Catron – 1865
  • John McKinley – 1852
  • Peter Vivian Daniel – 1860
  • Levi Woodbury – 1851
  • Nathan Clifford – 1881
  • Samuel Freeman Miller – 1890
  • Salmon P. Chase- 1873
  • Joseph P. Bradley – 1892
  • Morrison Waite – 1888
  • John Marshall Harlan – 1911
  • William Burnham Woods – 1887
  • Stanley Matthews – 1889
  • Horace Gray – 1902
  • Samuel Blatchford – 1893
  • Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar – 1893
  • Melville Fuller- 1910
  • David Josiah Brewer- 1910
  • Howell Edmunds Jackson- 1895
  • Rufus W. Peckham- 1909
  • Horace Harmon Lurton – 1914
  • Edward Douglass White – 1921
  • Joseph Rucker Lamar – 1916
  • Pierce Butler – 1939
  • Edward Terry Stanford – 1930
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo – 1938
  • Frank Murphy – 1949
  • Harlan F. Stone- 1946
  • Robert H. Jackson – 1954
  • Wiley Blount Rutledge – 1949
  • Fred M. Vinson – 1953
  • William Rehnquist – 2005
  • Antonin Scalia- 2016
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg- 2020

What are the most Common Names?

The top five most common names among Supreme Court Justices are as follows:

  1. John (13)
    1. John Jay
    2. John Rutledge
    3. John Marshall
    4. John G. Roberts Jr.
    5. John Blair
    6. John McLean
    7. John Catron
    8. John McKinley
    9. John Archibald Campbell
    10. John Marshall Harlan
    11. John Hessin Clarke
    12. John Marshall Harlan
    13. John Paul Stevens
  2. William (11)
    1. William Howard Taft
    2. William H. Rehnquist
    3. William Cushing
    4. William Paterson
    5. William Johnson
    6. William Strong
    7. William Burnham Woods
    8. William Rufus Day
    9. William Henry Moody
    10. William Orville Douglas
    11. William J. Brennan Jr.
  3. James (5)
    1. James Wilson
    2. James Iredell
    3. James Moore Wayne
    4. James Clark McReynolds
    5. James Francis Byrnes
  4. Samuel (5)
    1. Samuel Chase
    2. Samuel Nelson
    3. Samuel Freeman Miller
    4. Samuel Blatchford
    5. Samuel A. Alito Jr.
  5. Joseph (4)
    1. Joseph Story
    2. Joseph P. Bradley
    3. Joseph McKenna
    4. Joseph Rucker Lamar

Supreme Court Justices Appointments By Decade

Supreme Court Justice Appointments by Decade Chart - Buckfire Law

In the 1780s, 5 Justices were appointed:

  1. Blair, John, Jr.
  2. Cushing, William
  3. Jay, John
  4. Rutledge, John
  5. Wilson, James

In the 1790s, 7 Justices were appointed:

  1. Iredell, James
  2. Johnson, Thomas
  3. Paterson, William
  4. Chase, Samuel
  5. Ellsworth, Oliver
  6. Washington, Bushrod
  7. Moore, Alfred

In the 1800s, 4 Justices were appointed:

  1. Marshall, John
  2. Johnson, William
  3. Livingston, Henry Brockholst
  4. Todd, Thomas

In the 1810s, 2 Justices were appointed:

  1. Duvall, Gabriel
  2. Story, Joseph

In the 1820s, 3 Justices were appointed:

  1. Thompson, Smith
  2. Trimble, Robert
  3. McLean, John

In the 1830s, 6 Justices were appointed:

  1. Baldwin, Henry
  2. Barbour, Philip Pendelton
  3. Taney, Roger Brooke
  4. Wayne, James Moore
  5. Catron, John
  6. McKinley, John

In the 1840s, 4 Justices were appointed:

  1. Daniel, Peter Vivian
  2. Nelson, Samuel
  3. Woodbury, Levi
  4. Grier, Robert Cooper

In the 1850s, 3 Justices were appointed:

  1. Curtis, Benjamin Robbins
  2. Campbell, John Archibald
  3. Clifford, Nathan

In the 1860s, 5 Justices were appointed:

  1. Davis, David
  2. Miller, Samuel Freeman
  3. Swayne, Noah Haynes
  4. Field, Stephen Johnson
  5. Chase, Salmon Portland

In the 1870s, 5 Justices were appointed:

  1. Bradley, Joseph P.
  2. Strong, William
  3. Hunt, Ward
  4. Waite, Morrison Remick
  5. Harlan, John Marshall (I)

In the 1880s, 7 Justices were appointed:

  1. Woods, William Burnham
  2. Gray, Horace
  3. Matthews, Stanley
  4. Blatchford, Samuel
  5. Lamar, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus
  6. Fuller, Melville Weston
  7. Brewer, David Josiah

In the 1890s, 6 Justices were appointed:

  1. Brown, Henry Billings
  2. Shiras, George, Jr.
  3. Jackson, Howell Edmunds
  4. White, Edward Douglass
  5. Peckham, Rufus Wheeler
  6. McKenna, Joseph

In the 1900s, 4 Justices were appointed:

  1. Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr
  2. Day, William Rufus
  3. Moody, William Henry
  4. Lurton, Horace Harmon

In the 1910s, 7 Justices were appointed:

  1. Hughes, Charles Evans
  2. Lamar, Joseph Rucker
  3. Van Devanter, Willis
  4. Pitney, Mahlon
  5. McReynolds, James Clark
  6. Brandeis, Louis Dembitz
  7. Clarke, John Hessin

In the 1920s, 5 Justices were appointed:

  1. Taft, William Howard
  2. Butler, Pierce
  3. Sutherland, George
  4. Sanford, Edward Terry
  5. Stone, Harlan Fiske

In the 1930s, 6 Justices were appointed:

  1. Roberts, Owen Josephus
  2. Cardozo, Benjamin Nathan
  3. Black, Hugo Lafayette
  4. Reed, Stanley Forman
  5. Douglas, William Orville
  6. Frankfurter, Felix

In the 1940s, 8 Justices were appointed:

  1. Murphy, Francis (Frank) William
  2. Byrnes, James Frances
  3. Jackson, Robert Houghwout
  4. Rutledge, Wiley Blount
  5. Burton, Harold Hitz
  6. Vinson, Fred Moore
  7. Clark, Tom Campbell
  8. Minton, Sherman

In the 1950s, 5 Justices were appointed:

  1. Warren, Earl
  2. Harlan, John Marshall (II)
  3. Brennan, William Joseph, Jr.
  4. Whittaker, Charles Evans
  5. Stewart, Potter

In the 1960s, 5 Justices were appointed:

  1. Goldberg, Arthur Joseph
  2. White, Byron Raymond
  3. Fortas, Abe
  4. Marshall, Thurgood
  5. Burger, Warren Earl

In the 1970s, 4 Justices were appointed:

  1. Blackmun, Harry Andrew
  2. Powell, Lewis Franklin, Jr.
  3. Rehnquist, William Hubbs
  4. Stevens, John Paul

In the 1980s, 3 Justices were appointed:

  1. O’Connor, Sandra Day
  2. Scalia, Antonin
  3. Kennedy, Anthony McLeod

In the 1990s, 4 Justices were appointed:

  1. Souter, David H.
  2. Thomas, Clarence
  3. Ginsburg, Ruth Bader
  4. Breyer, Stephen G.

In the 2000s, 3 Justices were appointed:

  1. Alito, Samuel A., Jr.
  2. Roberts, John G., Jr.
  3. Sotomayor, Sonia Maria

In the 2010s, 3 Justices were appointed:

  1. Kagan, Elena
  2. Gorsuch, Neil McGill
  3. Kavanaugh, Brett Michael

So far in the 2020s, 1 Justice has been appointed:

  1. Barret, Amy Coney

Have any Supreme Court Justices Served in Congress?

In total, 28 Supreme Court Justices have served in Congress, including:

Supreme Court Justices - Served in Congress Chart - Buckfire Law

  • 15 Justices have served in the Senate.
    • Hugo Black
    • Harold Hitz Burton
    • James. F. Byrnes
    • Oliver Ellsworth
    • Edward Douglass White
    • Levi Woodbury
    • David Davis
    • Howell Edmunds Jackson
    • Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
    • Salmon P. Chase
    • Stanley Matthews
    • John McKinley
    • Sherman Minton
    • George Sutherland
    • William Paterson
  • 17 Justices have served in the House of Representatives.
    • Henry Baldwin
    • Philip Pendleton Barbour
    • James. F. Byrnes
    • Nathan Clifford
    • Gabriel Duvall
    • Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
    • John Marshall
    • Joseph McKenna
    • John McKinley
    • John McLean
    • William Henry Moody
    • Mahlon Pitney
    • Joseph Story
    • William Strong
    • George Sutherland
    • Fred M. Vinson
    • James Moore Wayne

Important Supreme Court Justice Resources

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