Some Facts on Supreme Court Nominations

I have a whole lot of notes on Supreme Court nominations right now for my law school writing requirement, which is somewhat timely considering that it is on the topic of (you guessed it) Supreme Court nominations, so I thought I might pass on a few quick tidbits before putting together something more comprehensive.

  • More than a third of Supreme Court Justices in American history have (38) come to the high court without any prior judicial experience.
  • Well over half of all Justices -- 60 out of 111 (.pdf), or 54 percent -- have come to the Court with prior experience in elective office. That is to say, a majority of Supreme Court Justices over time have run for and won public office in the past, from city councils all the way up to the Presidency.

So if you hear a pundit intone that someone on President Obama's shortlist to replace Justice John Paul Stevens is unacceptable because they would come to the Court without prior Judicial experience, or that they are not suited for the Court because they had previously worked in politics, do note that these assumptions aren't really grounded in the history of the Court (even if they have come to be accepted in recent years).

Tags: Supreme Court, Nominations, Judiciary (all tags)


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