List of United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office

A total of 113 people have served on the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest judicial body in the United States, since it was established in 1789. Supreme Court justices have life tenure, and so they serve until they die, resign or retire, or are impeached and removed from office. For the 105 non-incumbent justices, the average length of service was 6,203 days (16 years, 359 days).[1][upper-alpha 1] Their length of service ranges from William O. Douglas's 13,358 days (36 years, 209 days) on the Court to the 163-day tenure of Thomas Johnson. Among the current members of the Court, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice, with a tenure of 9,815 days (26 years, 318 days) as of September 6, 2018.

The table below ranks all United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office.[upper-alpha 2] For five individuals confirmed for associate justice, and later confirmed for chief justice separately—Charles Evans Hughes, William Rehnquist, John Rutledge, Harlan F. Stone, and Edward Douglass White—their cumulative length of service on the Court is measured. The basis of the ranking is the difference between dates; if counted by number of calendar days all the figures would be one greater, with the exception of Charles Evans Hughes and John Rutledge, who would receive two days, as each served on the Court twice (their service as associate justice and as chief justice was separated by a period of years off the Court). The start date given for each justice is the day he or she took the prescribed oath of office, with the end date being the date of the justice's death, resignation, or retirement. A highlighted row indicates a justice currently serving on the Court.

Justices by time in office

Longest Supreme Court tenure

13,358 days
(1939–1975)

12,614 days
(1863–1897)
Shortest Supreme Court tenure

452 days
(1941–1942)

163 days
(1792–1793)
RankJusticeLength
in days
Start date[3]End date[3]
1William O. Douglas13,358April 17, 1939November 12, 1975
2Stephen Johnson Field12,614May 20, 1863December 1, 1897
3John Paul Stevens12,611December 19, 1975June 29, 2010
4John Marshall   (CJ)12,570February 4, 1801July 6, 1835
5Hugo Black12,447August 19, 1937September 17, 1971
6John Marshall Harlan12,360December 10, 1877October 14, 1911
7William J. Brennan Jr.12,330October 16, 1956July 20, 1990
8William Rehnquist   (CJ)12,293[upper-alpha 3]January 7, 1972
September 26, 1986
September 26, 1986
September 3, 2005
9Joseph Story12,273February 3, 1812September 10, 1845
10James Moore Wayne11,860January 14, 1835July 5, 1867
11John McLean11,406January 11, 1830April 4, 1861
12Byron White11,396April 16, 1962June 28, 1993
13Bushrod Washington11,252February 4, 1799November 26, 1829
14Anthony Kennedy11,121February 18, 1988July 31, 2018
15William Johnson11,046May 7, 1804August 4, 1834
16Antonin Scalia10,732September 26, 1986February 13, 2016
17Oliver Wendell Holmes10,627December 8, 1902January 12, 1932
18Roger B. Taney   (CJ)10,425March 28, 1836October 12, 1864
19Samuel Freeman Miller10,311July 21, 1862October 13, 1890
20John Catron10,256May 1, 1837May 30, 1865
21Samuel Nelson10,136February 27, 1845November 28, 1872
22Edward Douglass White   (CJ)9,929[upper-alpha 4]March 12, 1894
December 19, 1910
December 19, 1910
May 19, 1921
23Joseph McKenna9,840January 26, 1898January 5, 1925
24Clarence Thomas9,815[upper-alpha 5]October 23, 1991Incumbent
25Willis Van Devanter9,647January 3, 1911June 2, 1937
26James Clark McReynolds9,608October 12, 1914January 31, 1941
27Ruth Bader Ginsburg9,158[upper-alpha 5]August 10, 1993Incumbent
28Sandra Day O'Connor8,894September 25, 1981January 31, 2006
29Harry Blackmun8,821June 9, 1970August 3, 1994
30Stephen Breyer8,800[upper-alpha 5]August 3, 1994Incumbent
30Thurgood Marshall8,765October 2, 1967October 1, 1991
32Felix Frankfurter8,611January 30, 1939August 28, 1962
33Nathan Clifford8,586January 21, 1858July 25, 1881
34Robert Cooper Grier8,575August 10, 1846January 31, 1870
35Gabriel Duvall8,453November 23, 1811January 14, 1835
36Potter Stewart8,298October 14, 1958July 3, 1981
37Louis Brandeis8,288June 5, 1916February 13, 1939
38Joseph P. Bradley7,975March 23, 1870January 22, 1892
39Melville Fuller   (CJ)7,938October 8, 1888July 4, 1910
40Harlan F. Stone   (CJ)7,721[upper-alpha 6]March 2, 1925
July 3, 1941
July 2, 1941
April 22, 1946
41Horace Gray7,553January 9, 1882September 15, 1902
42William Cushing7,527February 2, 1790September 13, 1810
43Smith Thompson7,413September 1, 1823December 18, 1843
44David Josiah Brewer7,385January 6, 1890March 28, 1910
45William R. Day7,196March 2, 1903November 13, 1922
46Stanley Forman Reed6,965January 31, 1938February 25, 1957
47Noah Haynes Swayne6,937January 27, 1862January 24, 1881
48Thomas Todd6,854May 4, 1807February 7, 1826
49David Souter6,838October 9, 1990June 29, 2009
50Peter Vivian Daniel6,716January 10, 1842May 31, 1860
51Tom C. Clark6,501August 24, 1949June 12, 1967
52Warren E. Burger   (CJ)6,304June 23, 1969September 26, 1986
53Charles Evans Hughes   (CJ)6,214[upper-alpha 7]October 10, 1910
February 24, 1930
June 10, 1916
June 30, 1941
54Pierce Butler6,162January 2, 1923November 16, 1939
55John Marshall Harlan II6,023March 28, 1955September 23, 1971
56Henry Brockholst Livingston5,901January 20, 1807March 18, 1823
57Earl Warren   (CJ)5,740October 5, 1953June 23, 1969
58Lewis Franklin Powell5,649January 7, 1972June 26, 1987
59Henry Billings Brown5,621January 5, 1891May 28, 1906
60Samuel Chase5,613February 4, 1796June 19, 1811
61George Sutherland5,586October 2, 1922January 17, 1938
62Owen Roberts5,538June 2, 1930July 31, 1945
63John McKinley5,305January 9, 1838July 19, 1852
64Henry Baldwin5,207January 18, 1830April 21, 1844
65David Davis5,198December 10, 1862March 4, 1877
66Morrison Waite   (CJ)5,133March 4, 1874March 23, 1888
67Rufus Wheeler Peckham5,039January 6, 1896October 24, 1909
68William Paterson4,929March 11, 1793September 9, 1806
69Robert H. Jackson4,838July 11, 1941October 9, 1954
70Harold Hitz Burton4,760October 1, 1945October 13, 1958
71John Roberts   (CJ)4,725[upper-alpha 5]September 29, 2005Incumbent
72Samuel Alito4,601[upper-alpha 5]January 31, 2006Incumbent
73Samuel Blatchford4,113April 3, 1882July 7, 1893
74Mahlon Pitney3,940March 18, 1912December 31, 1922
75William Strong3,928March 14, 1870December 14, 1880
76George Shiras Jr.3,787October 10, 1892February 23, 1903
77Frank Murphy3,452February 5, 1940July 19, 1949
78James Iredell3,448May 12, 1790October 20, 1799
79Sonia Sotomayor3,316[upper-alpha 5]August 8, 2009Incumbent
80Ward Hunt3,305January 9, 1873January 27, 1882
81James Wilson3,242October 5, 1789August 21, 1798
82William Howard Taft   (CJ)3,129July 11, 1921February 3, 1930
83Salmon P. Chase   (CJ)3,065December 15, 1864May 7, 1873
84Elena Kagan2,952[upper-alpha 5]August 7, 2010Incumbent
85John Archibald Campbell2,941April 11, 1853April 30, 1861
86Stanley Matthews2,866May 17, 1881March 22, 1889
87Fred M. Vinson   (CJ)2,633June 24, 1946September 8, 1953
88Edward Terry Sanford2,574February 19, 1923March 8, 1930
89Sherman Minton2,560October 12, 1949October 15, 1956
90Wiley Blount Rutledge2,399February 15, 1943September 10, 1949
91William Burnham Woods2,320January 5, 1881May 14, 1887
92Benjamin N. Cardozo2,308March 14, 1932July 9, 1938
93Benjamin Robbins Curtis2,182October 10, 1851September 30, 1857
94Levi Woodbury2,172September 23, 1845September 4, 1851
95John Hessin Clarke2,170October 9, 1916September 18, 1922
96John Blair2,091February 2, 1790October 25, 1795
97John Jay   (CJ)2,079October 19, 1789June 29, 1795
98 (tie)Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar1,832January 18, 1888January 23, 1893
Charles Evans Whittaker1,832March 25, 1957March 31, 1962
100Joseph Rucker Lamar1,825January 3, 1911January 2, 1916
101Philip Pendleton Barbour1,750May 12, 1836February 25, 1841
102Oliver Ellsworth   (CJ)1,742March 8, 1796December 15, 1800
103Horace Harmon Lurton1,651January 3, 1910July 12, 1914
104William Henry Moody1,434December 17, 1906November 20, 1910
105Alfred Moore1,375April 21, 1800January 26, 1804
106Abe Fortas1,318October 4, 1965May 14, 1969
107Arthur Goldberg1,028October 1, 1962July 25, 1965
108Howell Edmunds Jackson887March 4, 1893August 8, 1895
109Robert Trimble801June 16, 1826August 25, 1828
110John Rutledge   (CJ)563[upper-alpha 8]February 15, 1790
July 1, 1795
March 5, 1791
December 28, 1795
111Neil Gorsuch514[upper-alpha 5]April 10, 2017Incumbent
112James F. Byrnes452July 8, 1941October 3, 1942
113Thomas Johnson163August 6, 1792January 16, 1793

Notes

  1. Average tenure in office has increased significantly over the past half-century. In 1970, the average tenure in office (for the 89 justices who had left the Court prior to 1970) was about fifteen years.[2]
  2. A nominee who was confirmed by the United States Senate but declined to serve, such as Robert H. Harrison, or who died before taking the necessary steps toward becoming a member of the Court, such as Edwin M. Stanton, is not considered to have served as a justice, and thus is not included on this list.[3]
  3. Length of tenure includes 5376 days service as associate justice and 6917 days as chief justice.
  4. Length of tenure includes 6125 days service as associate justice and 3804 days as chief justice.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 As of September 6, 2018
  6. Length of tenure includes 5966 days service as associate justice and 1754 days as chief justice.
  7. Length of tenure includes 2070 days service as associate justice and 4144 days as chief justice.
  8. Length of tenure includes 383 days service as associate justice and 180 days as chief justice.

See also

References

  1. Wellford, Rachel (July 9, 2018). "More than 2 centuries of Supreme Court justices, in 18 numbers". PBS NewsHour. Arlington County, Virginia: NewsHour Productions (WETA-TV). Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  2. Cramton, Roger C. (Fall 2007). "Reforming the Supreme Court". California Law Review. 95: 1313–1334 (at p.1316). Retrieved August 3, 2018 via Cornell Law Faculty Publications.
  3. 1 2 3 "Justices 1789 to Present". Washington, D.C.: Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved June 23, 2018.

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