Monday, February 8, 2016



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Most Americans are most likely aware that under the Constitution a person must be at least 35 years of age and a natural born citizen of the United States in order to serve as President.  Some may also be aware that there is the additional requirement that the person be a resident of the country for 14 years.

Most Americans also most likely know that a justice of the United States Supreme Court serves for life.  Most, however, are probably unaware of just what the qualifications of a Supreme Court justice are.

According to Kathleen McLeary's recent article in Parade Magazine, "ANYBODY CAN BE A JUSTICE."  That little tidbit may come as as shock.  After all, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and as Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio reminds us..."the justices interpreting laws and a constitution...a set of laws for the country."

So really, can ANYBODY can serve on the Supreme Court?

Parade magazine says...

"The Constitution outlines two requirements:  Justices are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.  They don't have to be lawyers, judges, citizens, or even 21."

Despite this fact, EVERY justice of the United States Supreme Court thus far had been a lawyer first.  And as far as age, the youngest justice serving on the High Court today is 55 year old Elena Kagan* who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Prospective Supreme Court appointments have been discussed in the presidential primary debates this year.  It has been said that the next POTUS may have an opportunity to appoint several new justices.

What about the make-up of the Court today?  Which Presidents and political parties have had the most influence?

Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush have appointed 2 each. Democrats William Jefferson Clinton and Barack Obama have also appointed 2 each.  The 9th justice was appointed by George W. Bush.  The current court has 5 Republican-appointed justices and 4 Democratic-appointed justices. Certainly the political party and philosophy of the next POTUS will have considerable influence on the Court.

*Elena Kagan was born in New York City in 1960.  Her father was an attorney & her mother an elementary school teacher.  She attended Princeton, Oxford & Harvard Law School.  She served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School & as White House counsel.  EK became a professor and later Dean at Harvard Law School.  She served as Solictor General before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


"Qualifications for the Office of President,"

"Supreme Court," by Kathleen McCleary, U-One-Page, Parade Magazine, February 7, 2016.

United States Supreme Court Building
Washington, D.C.
Photo by John White (2011)