Supreme Court Facts
Supreme Court Facts

26 Surprising Supreme Court Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published January 28, 2020

The US judicial system is centered on the Supreme Court, the highest level of court and tribunal in the land. Get briefed on all the important Supreme Court facts, including info on some of the most interesting justices, landmark cases, weird Supreme Court history. Learn also how many justices are on the Supreme Court and all the details on the current supreme court justices

  • Only two Supreme Court justices have been featured on US currency: John Marshall was on the $500 bill, and Salmon P. Chase was on the $10,000. Neither bill is in circulation today.[4]
  • William H. Taft is the only US president to also serve as a Supreme Court justice.[4]
  • George Washington appointed the most Supreme Court justices, at eleven appointees. Franklin D. Roosevelt comes in second, with nine appointees.[4]
  • Justice Byron White is the only Supreme Court justice inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[3]
  • Only four presidents out of 45 did not have a chance to place an appointee on the Supreme Court: William Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and Jimmy Carter.[4]
  • Supreme Court Police Force
    The Supreme Court Police Force was established in 1935
  • The Supreme Court has its own police force called the Supreme Court Police.[1]
  • Article III Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States combined with the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789 created the United States Supreme Court.[5]
  • While the number has varied in the past, there are now nine justices on the US Supreme Court: one chief justice and eight associate justices.[5]
  • While the United States Congress can impeach a Supreme Court justice for corruption or abuses of office, no justice has ever left office through impeachment.[1]
  • The Supreme Court as a "third branch" of government was a new idea. In England, judicial decisions were made by the executive branch.[1]
  • The US Constitution does not specify the number of justices on the Supreme Court. The number varied until Congress finally settled on nine in 1869.[1]
  • The US Constitution doesn't set any qualifications to become a Supreme Court justice, which means the president can nominate anyone, and the Senate cannot create any qualifications to limit who the president chooses. The Senate can simply veto or approve the president's pick.[1]
  • At least six, and possibly all nine, of the current (2020) Supreme Court justices are millionaires. The chief justice is given a salary of about $258,100 a year, while the associate justices make $246,800 each.[10]
  • In 1811, 32-year-old Joseph Story became the youngest person ever appointed to the Supreme Court. He is one of the most renowned Constitutional scholars in American history and one of the greatest scholars to serve on the Supreme Court.[7]
  • One of the most enduring traditions of the Supreme Court is the use of quill pens. As was done during the earliest days of the Court, white quill pens are still placed on the counsel tables each day that the Court is in session.[12]
  • Supreme Court History
    The Supreme Court building was finished in 1935

  • In a tradition dating to the late 19th century, Supreme Court justices shake hands with each of the other eight when they meet to discuss cases. This serves as a reminder that in spite of differences of opinions, the Court still works in overall harmony.[12]
  • Supreme Court Justice John Rutledge tried to commit suicide after he criticized George Washington in a speech. He jumped off a wharf, but two of his slaves saved him before he could drown.[2]
  • The first member of the Supreme Court to die in office was Associate Justice James Wilson. He contracted malaria and then had a stroke. He also spent time in a debtor's prison and fled from New Jersey to North Carolina to escape creditors.[8]
  • In the history of the United States, 112 justices have been confirmed so far.[1]
  • In the history of the United States Supreme Court, 106 of the 112 justices have been white males.[9]
  • Weird Supreme Court Facts
    Clever as a fox
  • In 2002, a fox dashed into the Supreme Court building. It took over 24 hours to catch it.[6]
  • President Ronald Reagan nominated the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor.[11]
  • President George H. W. Bush nominated African American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is the second African American judge to serve on the US Supreme Court. The first was Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993).[1]
  • The first Supreme Court did not issue any rulings.[1]
  • The Supreme Court rules on between 80 and 90 cases per year. It receives between 7,000–8,000 per term.[1]
  • Samuel Chase (1796–1811) is the only US Supreme Court justice to have been impeached by the House of Representatives for letting his partisan leanings affect his decisions. However, he was acquitted by the Senate, and he remained in office.[1]

Suggested for you


Trending Now

Load More