Supreme Court of the United States

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The Roberts Court, 2022
Back row (left to right): Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Front row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Elena Kagan

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States of America. Because of this, the Court leads the Judicial Branch of the United States Federal Government. It is the only U.S. court established by the United States Constitution. Its decisions are supposed to be followed by all other courts in the United States. Since 1935, the Court has met in its own building in Washington, D.C.; before that, it met in the United States Capitol.

Background[change | change source]

There are 9 justices on the court now: one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. Courts (a set of all justices of the court while one Chief Justice is serving) are unofficially named for the Chief Justice; the current Court is called the "Roberts Court" after Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Supreme Court chooses which cases it will decide on, by choosing to give a writ of certiorari or not.[1] Almost 7,000 people, known as petitioners, ask the Supreme Court to decide their cases every year, but the court only gives a writ to about 100 or less.[2] For the Supreme Court to decide a case, the case must be about: federal law, the Constitution of the United States, disagreements between states or their residents, or another court's decision that differs from what the Supreme Court has decided on a similar case. Cases must first be decided by a federal district court and a federal court of appeals or by a state supreme court. Even after that, the Supreme Court can choose not to decide a case for any reason. Cases about disagreements between states or their residents sometimes can only be decided by the Supreme Court, but those are rare.

The justices serve for life unless they want to retire earlier or are impeached. If a justice retires, he or she can still be asked to serve as a judge on a federal Court of Appeals. New justices are nominated (picked) by the President of the United States, and then must be approved by the United States Senate.

The most recent justice to be chosen is Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated by President Joe Biden in February 2022, to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. After the Senate approved her, Jackson became the first female African American justice.[3]

The current Court[change | change source]

Justice /
birthdate and place
Appointed by SCV Age at Start date /
length of service
Previous position or office
(most recent prior to joining the Court)
Start Present
File-Official roberts CJ cropped.jpg John Roberts
(1955-01-27) January 27, 1955 (age 68)
Buffalo, New York
G. W. Bush 78–22 50 68 September 29, 2005
17 years, 238 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2003–2005) Rehnquist
Clarence Thomas official SCOTUS portrait (cropped).jpg Clarence Thomas
(1948-06-23) June 23, 1948 (age 74)
Pin Point, Georgia
G. H. W. Bush 52–48 43 74 October 23, 1991
31 years, 214 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1990–1991) Marshall
Samuel Alito official photo (cropped).jpg Samuel Alito
(1950-04-01) April 1, 1950 (age 73)
Trenton, New Jersey
G. W. Bush 58–42 55 73 January 31, 2006
17 years, 114 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1990–2006) O'Connor
Sonia Sotomayor in SCOTUS robe crop.jpg Sonia Sotomayor
(1954-06-25) June 25, 1954 (age 68)
The Bronx, New York
Obama 68–31 55 68 August 8, 2009
13 years, 290 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1998–2009) Souter
Elena Kagan-1-1.jpg Elena Kagan
(1960-04-28) April 28, 1960 (age 63)
Manhattan, New York
Obama 63–37 50 63 August 7, 2010
12 years, 291 days
Solicitor General of the United States (2009–2010) Stevens
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch Official Portrait (cropped 2).jpg Neil Gorsuch
(1967-08-29) August 29, 1967 (age 55)
Denver, Colorado
Trump 54–45 49 55 April 10, 2017
6 years, 45 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2006–2017) Scalia
Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh Official Portrait.jpg Brett Kavanaugh
(1965-02-12) February 12, 1965 (age 58)
Washington, D.C.
Trump 50–48 53 58 October 6, 2018
4 years, 231 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2006–2018) Kennedy
Amy Coney Barrett.png Amy Coney Barrett
(1972-01-28) January 28, 1972 (age 51)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Trump 52–48 48 51 October 27, 2020
2 years, 210 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2017–2020) Ginsburg
KBJackson.jpg Ketanji Brown Jackson
(1970-09-14) September 14, 1970 (age 52)
Washington, D.C.
Biden 53–47 52 52 June 30, 2022
329 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2021–2022) Breyer
     Source: [4]

Living former justices[change | change source]

Retired justices of the Supreme Court[4]
Birthdate and place
Appointed by Retired under Age at Tenure
Start Retirement Present Start date End date Length
Sandra Day O'Connor crop.jpg Sandra Day O'Connor
(1930-03-26)March 26, 1930
El Paso, Texas
Reagan G. W. Bush 51 75 93 September 25, 1981 January 31, 2006 24 years, 128 days
Anthony Kennedy official SCOTUS portrait crop.jpg Anthony Kennedy
(1936-07-23)July 23, 1936
Sacramento, California
Reagan Trump 51 82 86 February 18, 1988 July 31, 2018 30 years, 163 days
DavidSouter.jpg David Souter
(1939-09-17)September 17, 1939
Melrose, Massachusetts
G. H. W. Bush Obama 51 69 83 October 9, 1990 June 29, 2009 18 years, 263 days
Stephen Breyer, SCOTUS photo portrait (cropped).jpg Stephen Breyer
(1938-08-15)August 15, 1938
San Francisco, California
Clinton Biden 55 83 84 August 3, 1994 June 30, 2022 27 years, 319 days

References[change | change source]

  1. 28 U.S.C. § 1254
  2. Mauro, Tony (October 21, 2005). "Roberts Dips Toe into Cert Pool". Legal Times. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  3. Leu, Kristen (2022-02-27). "United States: First black woman judge nominated in Supreme Court". Khaleej Mag - News and Stories from Around the World. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Current Members". Washington, D.C.: Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved October 21, 2018.