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How many women have served as Supreme Court justices?

There have been only three women to serve as U.S. Supreme Court justices in the history of the Court: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor. President Ronald Reagan nominated O'Connor in 1981 in part to fulfill a campaign promise to nominate the first woman on the Court. President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and she still serves on the Court at the time of this writing. President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Court in 2009 to replace the retiring David Souter.

Did any of the recent justices on the Supreme Court previously serve as a judge in some capacity?

Yes, all of the current justices have previously served as federal judges in some capacity before they were elevated to the high court. None of the justices has previously had experience as a state court judge. Only Justice Sotomayor has ever served as a trial court judge, having served many years as a federal district court judge.

Previous Judgeships of the Current U.S. Supreme Court

Justice

Previous Judgeships

John G. Roberts Jr.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

John Paul Stevens

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit

Anthony Kennedy

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Antonin Scalia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

Clarence Thomas

U.S. Court of Appeals

for

the

D.C. Circuit

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

U.S. Court of Appeals

for

the

D.C. Circuit

Stephen Breyer

U.S. Court of Appeals

for

the

First Circuit

Samuel Alito

U.S. Court of Appeals

for

the

Third Circuit

Sonia Sotomayor

U.S. Court of Appeals

for

the

2nd Circuit and federal district

court judge in New York

Is it a requirement for a Supreme Court justice to have prior judicial experience?

No. Some of the most famous and prominent justices in American history never had prior judicial experience before their elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, Chief Justice Earl Warren and Chief Justice William Rehnquist never had prior judicial experience before they assumed the mantle of not only justice but also Chief Justice.

Can U.S. Supreme court justices be removed from office?

Yes, U.S. Supreme Court Justices and all other federal judges can be impeached for "treason, Bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The U.S. Constitution gives the U.S. House of Representatives the "sole power of impeachment" and the U.S. Senate "the sole Power to try all impeachments." It takes a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate for a justice to be impeached.

Have any U.S. Supreme Court justices been impeached?

Yes, Samuel Chase, an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1796 to 1811, was impeached by the House in 1804, but he was acquitted in the Senate in 1805.

What happened with the Chase impeachment proceedings?

Samuel Chase had a distinguished political history. He had signed the Declaration of Independence. He had served as the chief judge of Maryland's highest state court. However, Chase landed into trouble when he became a Supreme Court justice. His troubles occurred when he rode circuit and served as presiding judge in some key cases. For example, Chase apparently conducted himself in a very partisan manner during the sedition trial of James Callender. He also attacked President Thomas Jefferson, saying the president had engaged in "seditious attacks on the principles of the Constitution."

The House of Representatives impeached Chase 72 to 32 on eight charges in March 1804. However, the Senate acquitted Chase in 1805. On one charge, the Senate voted 19 to 15 to convict Chase. But Chase was acquitted on even this charge because there needed to be a two-thirds vote for conviction (or 24 votes). Many view the acquittal of Justice Chase as essential to the principle of an independent judiciary.

 
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