Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

Our first interim Stat Pack for October Term 2016, prepared by Kedar Bhatia, is available at this link.

Biographies of the Justices


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Chief Justice John Glover Roberts Jr. was born on January 27, 1955. He attended Harvard College, graduating in 1976, and Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review and from which he graduated  in 1979. Roberts clerked for Judge Henry Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and for then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist. He then joined President Ronald Reagan’s administration, serving as a special assistant to the attorney general until 1982; from 1982 until 1986, he served as associate counsel to the president. In 1986, he entered private practice at the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson, but he left to serve for four years as principal deputy solicitor general. He returned to Hogan & Hartson in 1993, becoming the firm’s head of appellate practice. He has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court. In 2001, he was nominated for an opening on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; he was confirmed in 2003. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Roberts to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. While the nomination was pending, Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away, and Bush instead nominated Roberts to replace Rehnquist. Roberts was confirmed in September 2005, by a vote of 78-22.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Associate Justice Anthony McLeod Kennedy was born on July 23, 1936. He graduated from Stanford University in 1958 and from Harvard Law School in 1961. Kennedy worked in private practice in California from 1961 to 1965 and taught at the McGeorge School of Law from 1965 until 1988. In 1975, President Gerald Ford nominated Kennedy to fill a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, where he served until 1988. In 1987, Kennedy’s was the third nomination (following those of Judges Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg) made by President Ronald Reagan to replace retiring Justice Lewis Powell Jr. Kennedy was confirmed in February 1988 by a vote of 97-0.

Justice Clarence Thomas

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was born on June 23, 1948, in Pin Point, Georgia. Thomas considered a career in the priesthood and attended several seminaries before going to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, from which he graduated  in 1971. He then entered Yale Law School, graduating in 1974. After graduation, he took a job as an assistant attorney general of Missouri, and from 1976 until 1979 he worked as an attorney for Monsanto. In 1979, he became a legislative assistant for the Senate Commerce Committee; he joined President Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1981, working as assistant secretary of education for the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and then as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Thomas was confirmed in March 1990. In 1991, after Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement, Bush nominated Thomas to replace Marshall. In October of that year, Thomas was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 52-48.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933. Ginsburg graduated from Cornell University in 1954. She went on to attend Harvard Law School, becoming one of only nine women in a class of over 500; she later transferred to Columbia Law School, from which she graduated in 1959. Ginsburg clerked for Judge Edmund Palmieri of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. For three years, Ginsburg worked as a research associate and then as associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure; she then taught at Rutgers and Columbia Law Schools from 1963 until 1972 and 1972 until 1980, respectively. While at Columbia, Ginsburg also served as chief litigator of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing several cases before the Supreme Court. She was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. She served on that court until 1993, when she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Byron White. Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96-3, and was sworn in as the court’s second female justice in August 1993.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer

Associate Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer was born on August 15, 1938. Breyer received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1959 and then attended Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. He went on to attend Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1964. Following law school, Breyer clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Arthur Goldberg; he then worked as a special assistant to the United States attorney general for antitrust from 1965 to 1967. In 1967, Breyer became a lecturer and associate professor at Harvard Law School, where he continued teaching until 1994. During that time, he also served as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and he worked as special counsel and later as chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter nominated Breyer to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit; he was confirmed in December 1980 and became the chief judge in 1990. In 1994, President Bill Clinton nominated Breyer to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Harry Blackmun. By a vote of 87-9, Breyer was confirmed in August 1994.

Justice Samuel A. Alito

Associate Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. was born on April 1, 1950, in Trenton, New Jersey. Alito received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1972. Following his graduation, Alito was commissioned to the U.S. Army Signal Corps and assigned to the Army Reserve. He went on to attend Yale Law School, becoming editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduating in 1975. Following his graduation, Alito clerked for Judge Leonard Garth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and then went on to work as an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey. In 1981, he became an assistant to the solicitor general, arguing 12 cases before the Supreme Court. He went on to serve as a deputy assistant to the attorney general and later became the U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey. In February 1990, President George H.W. Bush nominated Alito to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit; he was confirmed unanimously in April of that year. In 2005, after White House counsel Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination, President George W. Bush nominated Alito to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. By a vote of 58-42, the Senate confirmed Alito in January 2006.

Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor

Associate Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954, in the Bronx, New York. Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University in 1976 and in 1979 from Yale Law School, where she was the editor of the Yale Law Review. Following her graduation from Yale, Sotomayor served as an assistant district attorney under Robert Morgenthau, then the district attorney of New York County; after that, she entered private practice, working for eight years at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. In 1991, Sotomayor was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; she was confirmed in August 1992. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. She served on that court until 2009, when she was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice David Souter. By a vote of 68- 31, Sotomayor was confirmed in August 2009 as the court’s 111th justice, becoming the third woman – and the first person of Hispanic descent – to serve on the court.

Justice Elena Kagan

Associate Justice Elena Kagan was born on April 28, 1960, in New York City. Kagan graduated  from Princeton University in 1981 and then attended Oxford University on a fellowship, receiving a Master of Philosophy in 1983. After graduating from Oxford, Kagan attended Harvard Law School, becoming supervisory editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduating in 1986. Kagan clerked for Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and on the Supreme Court for Justice Thurgood Marshall. She then entered private practice at the Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly, leaving to join the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School in 1991. She served as associate White House counsel in President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1995 until 1999 before returning to academia at Harvard Law School, where she became a full professor in 2001. In 2005, Kagan became Harvard Law School’s first female dean. In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her to become the first female solicitor general of the United States; she was confirmed in March 2009. In May 2010, Obama nominated Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. She was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 63-37 and was sworn in on August 7, 2010.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch

Associate Justice Neil McGill Gorsuch was born on August 29, 1967, in Denver. Gorsuch graduated from Columbia University in 1988 and Harvard Law School, which he attended on a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, in 1991. He clerked for Judge David Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and on the Supreme Court for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. In 1995, Gorsuch entered private practice at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, where he later became a partner and where he worked until 2005. During this period, he also attended Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 2004. From 2005 to 2006, he served as the principal deputy associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2006, President George W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and the Senate confirmed him by voice vote. He has also taught at the University of Colorado Law School. In January 2017, President Donald Trump nominated him to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, after the Senate declined to act on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. Gorsuch was confirmed by a 54-45 vote, and he was sworn in on April 10, 2017.

Term Snapshot
Awards