A History Of The Supreme Court Of The United States

Oct 12, 2020, 1:36 PM
FILE: An exterior view of the U.S. Supreme Court building May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by...
FILE: An exterior view of the U.S. Supreme Court building May 12, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Here is a look at the Supreme Court of the United States.


The US Supreme Court was created in accordance with Article III, section 1 of the Constitution of the United States and by the authority of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789.

Nine justices comprise the US Supreme Court, one chief justice and eight associate justices. The number of justices is fixed by Congress by the authority of judicial code, (28 U.S.C. 1), enacted on June 25, 1948.

The President of the United States nominates candidates for the Supreme Court. They must be approved by the US Senate.

Once approved, all justices serve for life. Congress can remove a justice through impeachment for corrupt behavior or other abuses of office, but this has never happened.

Chief justices are sworn in by the outgoing chief justices. Associate justices are sworn in by the current chief justice or one of the other associate justices.

Each justice oversees at least one of the 12 Federal Judicial Circuit Courts.

February 2, 1790 – The first court assembles in New York City.

May 4, 2020 – For the first time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the court hears oral arguments via teleconference. In addition, the arguments are broadcast live, in real time.

John G. Roberts (Chief Justice)
Birth date: January 27, 1955

September 5, 2005 – President George W. Bush nominates Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

September 29, 2005 – Confirmed by the United States Senate.

October 3, 2005 – Sworn into office.

Oversees the District of Columbia Circuit, the Fourth Circuit, and the Federal Circuit.

Born in Buffalo, New York; attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School; served as judge on the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit 2003-2005.

Clarence Thomas
Birth date: June 23, 1948

July 1, 1991 – Nominated to the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush to fill the seat of the retiring Thurgood Marshall.

October 23, 1991 – Sworn into office.

Oversees the Eleventh Circuit.

Born in Pin Point, Georgia, near Savannah; attended Holy Cross College and Yale Law School; was Chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1982-1990; became a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1990.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Birth date: March 15, 1933

Death date: September 18, 2020

June 14, 1993 – Nominated by President Bill Clinton.

August 10, 1993 – Sworn into office.

September 18, 2020 – Ginsburg dies due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, according to the court.

Oversaw the Second Circuit.

Born in Brooklyn, New York; attended Cornell University, Harvard and Columbia Law Schools; was a professor at Rutgers University School of Law and Columbia Law School from 1963-1980; served as the ACLU’s general counsel from 1973-1980; appointed judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980.

Stephen G. Breyer
Birth date: August 15, 1938

May 13, 1994 – Nominated by Clinton.

August 3, 1994 – Sworn into office.

Oversees the First Circuit.

Born in San Francisco; attended Stanford University, Oxford University and Harvard Law School; served as Special Prosecutor and Special Counsel to the Senate during Watergate; has held various positions, including professor and lecturer at Harvard Law School from 1967-1994 and professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1977-1980; served as a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from 1980-1994.

Samuel Alito
Birth date: April 1, 1950

October 31, 2005 – Nominated by George W. Bush to replace Sandra Day O’Connor.

January 31, 2006 – Confirmed by the United States Senate and sworn into office by Chief Justice Roberts.

Oversees the Third and Fifth Circuits.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey; attended Princeton University and Yale Law School; named as the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey in 1987; appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Newark, New Jersey in 1990.

Sonia Sotomayor
Birth date: June 25, 1954

May 26, 2009 – Is nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Justice David Souter on the US Supreme Court.

August 8, 2009 – Sworn into office by Chief Justice Roberts as the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

Oversees the Tenth and Sixth Circuits.

Born in New York, New York (Bronx); attended Princeton University and Yale Law School; served as assistant district attorney for New York County in 1979; George H.W. Bush nominated Sotomayor as associate judge at the US District Court, Southern District of New York in 1992; Clinton nominated Sotomayor to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997.

Elena Kagan
Birth date: April 28, 1960

May 10, 2010 – Obama nominates Kagan to be a justice on the US Supreme Court.

August 7, 2010 – Sworn into office by Chief Justice Roberts as the 112th Supreme Court Justice.

Oversees the Ninth Circuit.

Born in New York, New York; attended Princeton University, Worcester College at Oxford University and Harvard University; was editor of the Harvard Law Review; clerk for Justice Marshall; associate Counsel to Clinton; first female Dean of Harvard University Law School; Obama named Kagan to be US solicitor general in 2009.

Neil Gorsuch
Birth date: August 29, 1967

January 31, 2017 – Gorsuch is nominated by President Donald Trump to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

April 10, 2017 – Sworn into office by Justice Kennedy.

Oversees the Eighth Circuit.

Born in Denver, Colorado; attended Columbia University, Harvard Law School and Oxford University; founded a student publication at Columbia called the Federalist Paper; clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy; George W. Bush nominated him to serve as judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Brett Kavanaugh
Birth date: February 12, 1965

July 9, 2018 – Kavanaugh is nominated by Trump to replace retiring Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

October 6, 2018 – Sworn into office by Chief Justice Roberts.

Oversees the Seventh Circuit.

Born in Washington, DC; attended Yale College and Yale Law School; clerk for Justice Kennedy; associate counsel for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater Investigation; Bush nominated him to serve as judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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A History Of The Supreme Court Of The United States