List of United States Supreme Court justices by time in office

A total of 115 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, retire, or are impeached and removed from office. For the 106 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, Clarence Thomas's tenure of 10,877 days (29 years, 284 days)[upper-alpha 2] is the longest, while Amy Coney Barrett's 280 days[upper-alpha 2] is the shortest.

The table below ranks all United States Supreme Court Justices by time in office.[upper-alpha 3] For five individuals confirmed for associate justice, and later served as chief justice —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 they 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)

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

452 days
(1941–1942)

Thomas Johnson
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 4]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 Washington11,339November 9, 1798November 26, 1829
14Anthony Kennedy11,121February 18, 1988July 31, 2018
15William Johnson11,046May 7, 1804August 4, 1834
16Clarence Thomas10,877[upper-alpha 2]October 23, 1991Incumbent
17Antonin Scalia10,732September 26, 1986February 13, 2016
18Oliver Wendell Holmes10,627December 8, 1902January 12, 1932
19Roger B. Taney   (CJ)10,425March 28, 1836October 12, 1864
20Samuel Freeman Miller10,311July 21, 1862October 13, 1890
21John Catron10,256May 1, 1837May 30, 1865
22Samuel Nelson10,136February 27, 1845November 28, 1872
23Edward Douglass White   (CJ)9,929[upper-alpha 5]March 12, 1894
December 19, 1910
December 19, 1910
May 19, 1921
24Ruth Bader Ginsburg9,901August 10, 1993September 18, 2020
25Stephen Breyer9,862[upper-alpha 2]August 3, 1994Incumbent
26Joseph McKenna9,840January 26, 1898January 5, 1925
27Willis Van Devanter9,647January 3, 1911June 2, 1937
28James Clark McReynolds9,608October 12, 1914January 31, 1941
29Sandra Day O'Connor8,894September 25, 1981January 31, 2006
30Harry Blackmun8,821June 9, 1970August 3, 1994
31Thurgood 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
57John Roberts   (CJ)5,787[upper-alpha 2]September 29, 2005Incumbent
58Earl Warren   (CJ)5,740October 5, 1953June 23, 1969
59Samuel Alito5,663[upper-alpha 2]January 31, 2006Incumbent
60Lewis Franklin Powell5,649January 7, 1972June 26, 1987
61Henry Billings Brown5,621January 5, 1891May 28, 1906
62Samuel Chase5,613February 4, 1796June 19, 1811
63George Sutherland5,586October 2, 1922January 17, 1938
64Owen Roberts5,538June 2, 1930July 31, 1945
65John McKinley5,305January 9, 1838July 19, 1852
66Henry Baldwin5,207January 18, 1830April 21, 1844
67David Davis5,198December 10, 1862March 4, 1877
68Morrison Waite   (CJ)5,133March 4, 1874March 23, 1888
69Rufus W. Peckham5,039January 6, 1896October 24, 1909
70William Paterson4,929March 11, 1793September 9, 1806
71Robert H. Jackson4,838July 11, 1941October 9, 1954
72Harold Hitz Burton4,760October 1, 1945October 13, 1958
73Sonia Sotomayor4,378[upper-alpha 2]August 8, 2009Incumbent
74Samuel Blatchford4,113April 3, 1882July 7, 1893
75Elena Kagan4,014[upper-alpha 2]August 7, 2010Incumbent
76Mahlon Pitney3,940March 18, 1912December 31, 1922
77William Strong3,928March 14, 1870December 14, 1880
78George Shiras Jr.3,787October 10, 1892February 23, 1903
79Frank Murphy3,452February 5, 1940July 19, 1949
80James Iredell3,448May 12, 1790October 20, 1799
81Ward Hunt3,305January 9, 1873January 27, 1882
82James Wilson3,242October 5, 1789August 21, 1798
83William Howard Taft   (CJ)3,129July 11, 1921February 3, 1930
84Salmon P. Chase   (CJ)3,065December 15, 1864May 7, 1873
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 P. Barbour1,750May 12, 1836February 25, 1841
102Oliver Ellsworth   (CJ)1,742March 8, 1796December 15, 1800
103Horace Harmon Lurton1,651January 3, 1910July 12, 1914
104Neil Gorsuch1,576[upper-alpha 2]April 10, 2017Incumbent
105William Henry Moody1,434December 17, 1906November 20, 1910
106Alfred Moore1,375April 21, 1800January 26, 1804
107Abe Fortas1,318October 4, 1965May 14, 1969
108Brett Kavanaugh1,032[upper-alpha 2]October 6, 2018Incumbent
109Arthur Goldberg1,028October 1, 1962July 25, 1965
110Howell Edmunds Jackson887March 4, 1893August 8, 1895
111Robert Trimble801June 16, 1826August 25, 1828
112John Rutledge   (CJ)521[upper-alpha 8]February 15, 1790
August 12, 1795
March 5, 1791
December 28, 1795
113James F. Byrnes452July 8, 1941October 3, 1942
114Amy Coney Barrett280[upper-alpha 2]October 27, 2020Incumbent
115Thomas 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. As of August 3, 2021
  3. 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 Stanton, is not considered to have served as a justice, and thus not included on this list.[3]
  4. Length of tenure includes 5,376 days' service as associate justice and 6,917 days as chief justice.
  5. Length of tenure includes 6,125 days' service as associate justice and 3,804 days as chief justice.
  6. Length of tenure includes 5,966 days' service as associate justice and 1,754 days as chief justice.
  7. Length of tenure includes 2,070 days' service as associate justice and 4,144 days as chief justice.
  8. Length of tenure includes 383 days service as associate justice and 138 days as chief justice.

See also

  • List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • List of law schools attended by United States Supreme Court justices
  • List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by seat
  • List of United States federal judges by longevity of service

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. "Justices 1789 to Present". Washington, D.C.: Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved June 23, 2018.

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