“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.

Curriculum Vitae:

  • 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.

Facts obtained from the Supreme Court’s website, Oxford Univ. Press, ConstitutionFacts.com, CNN, History.com, The Daily Beast, The National Constitution Center, and KQED.org.