“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” – Mark Twain.
From the installation of a frozen-yogurt machine to verified KKK membership, the history of the United States Supreme Court and its Justices is filled with fascinating facts.
- Excluding Senate confirmation, there are no formal requirements for becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
- 57%, or 64 out of 112 Justices, never earned a Juris Doctorate degree.
- Harvard has produced more Justices (15) then the next three schools combined (Yale, Columbia, and Samford (no, not Stanford. Samford)).
- Today’s Court is comprised entirely of Ivy League graduates: 5 enrolled at Harvard, three attended Yale, and one graduated from Columbia.
- William Howard Taft is the only person to have served as both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Court.
Age is Just a Number:
- The youngest Chief Justice ever appointed was 44 year-old John Jay. The youngest Associate Justice ever appointed was 32 year-old Joseph Story.
- The oldest individual to serve was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who was 90 years-old when he retired from the Court.
- There have been 112 Justices in the history of the Supreme Court.
- Justices have served a term of 16 years on average.
- Chief Justice John Marshal was the longest serving Chief at 34 years, 5 months, and 11 days, while Associate Justice William Douglas has the longest term in Court history at 36 years, 7 months, and 8 days.
- Justice Hugo Black was a member of the KKK, though he later joined the Court’s majority in Brown v. Board, holding segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
- Justice Ginsberg beat cancer twice while not missing a day of work.
- The Ten Commandments adorn the walls of the Supreme Court building.
An Exclusive Club:
- Jimmy Carter is the only president to serve a full term without nominating a Supreme Court justice.
- President George Washington appointed 11 Justices, more than any other president.
- Justice Byron White is the only Justice to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also inducted in the NFL’s Hall of Fame.
- First Catholic Justice: Roger B. Taney.
- First Jewish Justice: Louis Brandeis.
- First African-American Justice: Thurgood Marshall.
- First Hispanic Justice: Sonia Sotomayor.
- First female Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor.
- Justice Elena Kagan is responsible for the installation of the first frozen-yogurt machine in the Supreme Court cafeteria.
- The top floor of the Supreme Court building houses a gym, which includes a basketball court dubbed “the highest court in the land.”
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 1 of 9 women in her 1956 graduating class at Harvard.
- Traditionally, 20 white quill pens are placed at counsel’s tables each day while the Court is in session. After oral argument, attorneys are encouraged to keep the pens as souvenirs.