How Long Do Supreme Court Justices Serve?

US Supreme Court
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The US Constitution states that once confirmed by the Senate, a justice serves for life. He or she is not elected and does not need to run for office. However, they may retire if they wish. This means that Supreme Court Justices can serve through multiple presidential terms, and need not take politics into account when making Constitutional decisions that will affect the America people for decades or even centuries.

Supreme Court Justices

As of 2018, the Supreme Court was made up of the following individuals:

Chief Justice of the United States: John G. Roberts, Jr.

Associate Justices:

  • Clarence Thomas
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Stephen G. Breyer
  • Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Elena Kagan
  • Neil M. Gorsuch
  • Brett M. Kavanaugh

Supreme Court Justices can be impeached and removed from the court if they do not maintain “good behavior.” Only one Supreme Court Justice has been impeached: Samuel Chase in 1805. However, Chase was later acquitted by the Senate.

Who Are the Supreme Court Justices?

According to, "The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and such number of Associate Justices as may be fixed by Congress. The number of Associate Justices is currently fixed at eight. Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate. Article III, §1, of the Constitution further provides that "[t]he Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."

Fun Facts About Supreme Court Justices

Supreme Court Justices have an extraordinarily important role to play in interpreting the US Constitution. It's only recently, however, that Justices have included women, non-Christians, or non-whites. Here are some fast, fun facts about America's Supreme Court Justices over the years.

  • Total number of Justices: 113 as of April 2017
  • Average length of tenure: 16 years
  • Longest serving Chief Justice: John Marshall (more than 34 years)
  • Shortest serving Chief Just: John Rutledge (just 5 months and 14 days under a temporary commission)
  • Longest serving Associate Justice: William O. Douglas (almost 37 years)
  • Short serving Associate Justice: John Rutledge (1 year and 18 days)
  • Youngest Chief Justice when appointed: John Jay (44 years old)
  • Oldest Chief Justice when appointed: Harlan F. Stone (68 years old)
  • Youngest Associate Justice when appointed: Joseph Story (32 years old)
  • Oldest Associate Justice when appointed: Horace Lurton (65 years old)
  • Oldest person to serve on the Supreme Court: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr (90 years old on retirement)
  • Only person to serve as both Chief Justice and US President: William Howard Taft
  • First Jewish Supreme Court Justice: Louis D. Brandeis (1916-1939)
  • First African American Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall (1967-1991)
  • First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice: Sonia Sotomayor (2009-Present)