What would you like to do?

What US Supreme Court justices were not judges prior to being appointed to the Court?

already exists.

Would you like to merge this question into it?

already exists as an alternate of this question.

Would you like to make it the primary and merge this question into it?

exists and is an alternate of .

A total of 41 justices (10 Chief Justices and 31 Associate Justices) of the 112 seated (36.6%) had no judicial experience before joining the US Supreme Court.

The following list includes only US Supreme Court justices who were NEVER judges prior to being nominated to the US Supreme Court. The occupation listed is the last position held before nomination.

Please note that most justices held other, often multiple, positions in politics earlier in their careers. Many of the justices whose occupation at nomination is listed as "lawyer" had temporarily returned to private practice because the opposing party was in office and there were no government opportunities available to them until the administration changed.


Chief Justices


John Jay..........................(1789 - 1798)....Washington.............Envoy, Ambassador
John Marshall...................(1801 - 1835)....Adams....................Secretary of State
Roger Taney.....................(1836 - 1864)....Jackson..................Secretary of the Treasury
Salmon Chase..................(1864 - 1873)....Lincoln....................Secretary of the Treasury
Morrison Waite.................(1873 - 1888)....Grant......................Pres, OH Constitutional Convention
Melville Fuller...................(1888 - 1910).....Cleveland...............Lawyer
Charles Hughes................(1930 - 1941).....Hoover...................US delegate, Perm Court of Arbitration (The Hague)
Harlan Stone....................(1941 - 1946).....Roosevelt, F...........Associate Justice, US Supreme Court
Earl Warren......................(1953 - 1969)....Eisenhower.............Governor, California
William H. Rehnquist.........(1986 - 2005)....Reagan..................Associate Justice, US Supreme Court


Associate Justices

James Wilson...................(1789 - 1798)....Washington............Member, Continental Congress
Bushrod Washington.........(1799 - 1829).....Adams..................Lawyer
Joseph Story....................(1812 - 1845).....Madison................Speaker, MA Lower House
Henry Baldwin..................(1830 - 1844).....Jackson................Lawyer
John McKinley..................(1838 - 1852).....Van Buren.............House of Representatives
Benjamin Curtis...............(1851 - 1857)......Fillmore...............MA State Legislature
John Campbell.................(1853 - 1861)......Pierce..................Lawyer
Nathan Clifford.................(1858 - 1881).....Buchanan.............Lawyer
Noah Swayne...................(1862 - 1881).....Lincoln.................Lawyer
Samuel Miller...................(1862 - 1890)......Lincoln.................Lawyer
Joseph Bradley.................(1870 - 1892)......Grant..................Lawyer
Lucius Lamar....................(1888 - 1893).....Cleveland.............Secretary of the Interior
George Shiras, Jr..............(1892 - 1903)......Harrison..............Lawyer
William Henry Moody.........(1906 - 1910).....Roosevelt, T..........US Attorney General
James McReynolds............(1914 - 1941).....Wilson..................US Attorney General
Louis Brandeis..................(1916 - 1939).....Wilson.................Lawyer
George Sutherland............(1922 - 1938).....Harding...............US Consul at The Hague
Pierce Butler.....................(1923 - 1939).....Harding...............Regent, University of Minnesota
Owen Roberts...................(1930 - 1945).....Hoover.................Special US Attorney
Stanley Forman Reed.........(1938 - 1945).....Roosevelt, F.........Solicitor General
Felix Frankfurter................(1939 - 1962).....Roosevelt, F..........Law Professor, Harvard
William O. Douglas............(1939 - 1974).....Roosevelt, F..........Chairman of SEC
James Francis Byrnes.........(1941 - 1942).....Roosevelt, F..........Senator
Robert H. Jackson.............(1941 - 1954).....Roosevelt, F..........US Attorney General
Harold Hitz Burton.............(1945 - 1958).....Truman................Senator
Tom C. Clark.....................(1949 - 1967).....Truman................US Attorney General
Byron White......................(1962 - 1993).....Kennedy..............Deputy Attorney General
Arthur J. Goldberg.............(1962 - 1965).....Kennedy...............Secretary of Labor
Abe Fortas........................(1965 - 1969).....Johnson...............Lawyer
Lewis F. Powell..................(1972 - 1987)......Nixon..................Lawyer
Elena Kagan......................(2010 - Pres)......Obama.................US Solicitor General


All of the members of the current 2010 Court staff had judicial experience on the US Courts of Appeals Circuit Courts prior to being elevated to the US Supreme Court.

For more information, see Related Questions, below.
15 people found this useful
Thanks for the feedback!

The question and answer are locked and cannot be edited.

How are US Supreme Court justices appointed?

The President nominates new members to the Supreme Court, but the Senate must approve the nomination by a majority vote. This is part of the system of checks and balances that

Who appoints justices to the US Supreme Court?

Under Article II of the Constitution, the President appoints  Supreme Court justices with the "advice and consent" (approval) of  the Senate.    Simply put, the Presi

How are supreme court justices appointed?

US Supreme Court justices are appointed for life or until they choose to retire. If a position becomes open, the president submits the name of a nominee to the US Senate for a

Are justices of the US Supreme Court appointed?

Yes. Justices of the US Supreme Court are nominated by the President and approved by a simple majority (51%) vote of the Senate. The Constitution provides the justice shall s

How are Federal Judges and US Supreme Court Justices appointed?

Judges and justices who serve in US District Court, US Court of International Trade, US Court of Appeals Circuit Courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States are appoint

When is a justice appointed to the US Supreme Court?

When a vacancy occurs because a sitting justice retires, resigns, dies or is impeached and convicted.    Only one US Supreme Court justice, Samuel Chase, has ever been

Are US Supreme Court justices appointed?

Yes, US Supreme Court justices are appointed, rather than elected. The President nominates a candidate, and the Senate votes whether to confirm or reject the appointment. If a

Are federal judges appointed for life the same as US Supreme Court justices?

Yes, but this only applies to Article III (constitutional) judges. Federal justices who serve on the courts listed below can remain on the bench until they resign, retire or d