Supreme Court Lines of Succession, Updated


The updated page takes account of the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to succeed Antonin Scalia. I have also updated a graph that shows the extent to which each justice has disagreed with other justices; it now covers October Term 2005 – October Term 2016. And there’s a new graph which shows the extent to which each justice has defected from his or her wing of the Court, by term. It shows, unsurprisingly, that in recent terms Anthony Kennedy has disagreed with the conservative (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas) more frequently than he has diagreed with the “liberals” (Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor). The graph also underscores Roberts’s recent weakness.

The U.S. Supreme Court: Lines of Succession

I have added a page of that title to this blog. Readers may access it through a link near the top of the left sidebar. The page includes a large table that gives the dates of service and lines of succession for every person who has served on the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the text that accompanies the table:

Though there are now only nine justices and nine seats on the Supreme Court, this table lists eleven lines of succession. There is one for the chief justiceship and ten for the associate justiceships that Congress has created at one time an another by changing the size of the Court. In other words, two associate justiceships have “died out” in the course of the Court’s history. The present members of the Court, in addition to the chief justice, hold the first, second, third, fourth, sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth associate justiceships created by Congress.

The name of every justice is associated with the name of the president who nominated that person to a justiceship (chief or associate). The first date under a justice’s name is the date on which he or she took the oath of office (or was appointed in a recess of the Senate). There is a second date below the name of every justice (except for the nine now serving). That date is the date on which the person left the Court, by death or resignation, and that date may be (and usually is) associated with a president other than one who nominated the justice. The date of a justice’s departure from the Court usually appears directly above the name of the next justice in the line of succession for the same seat on the Court.

Because there is a separate line of succession for the chief justiceship, persons who were already on the Court and then elevated to the chief justiceship are listed in two different places. Also, the names of a few justices appear in more than one place because they served non-consecutive terms on the Court.