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 summa cum laude in 1976, and then attended Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude in 1979. Following his graduation, Roberts clerked for Judge Henry Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist. He then joined the Reagan 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 (now Hogan Lovells), but he left to serve for four years as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General. He returned to Hogan & Hartson in 1993, becoming the firm's head of appellate practice, and went on to argue thirty-nine cases before the Supreme Court. In 2001, he was nominated for an opening on the D.C. Circuit; he was confirmed in 2003. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Roberts to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. While his nomination was pending, Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away, and Bush instead nominated Roberts to replace Rehnquist. He was confirmed in September 2005, by a vote of seventy-eight to twenty-two.
Justice Antonin Scalia
Antonin Scalia was born on March 11, 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey. He graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude from Georgetown University in 1957 and then attended Harvard Law School, where he served as Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude in 1960. After a one-year fellowship in Europe, Scalia began work at the law firm of Jones, Day, Cockley and Reavis in Cleveland, and in 1967 he became a law professor at the University of Virginia. In 1971, he was appointed by then-President Richard Nixon as general counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy, and he later served as chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States. In 1974, Scalia became the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel but returned to academia after the 1976 election, teaching for the next five years at the University of Chicago and Stanford Law Schools. In 1982, then-President Ronald Reagan nominated Scalia to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; in 1986, Reagan nominated Scalia to fill the vacancy created by the elevation of then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist to Chief Justice. By a vote of ninety-eight to zero, Scalia was confirmed in September 1986.
Justice Anthony Kennedy
Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy was born on July 23, 1936. He received a B.A. from Stanford University in 1958 and graduated cum laude 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, then-President Gerald Ford nominated Kennedy to fill a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where he served until 1988. In 1987, Kennedy was the third nomination (following those of Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg) made by then-President Ronald Reagan to replace retiring Justice Lewis Powell, Jr. Kennedy was confirmed in February 1988 by a vote of ninety-seven to zero.
Justice Clarence Thomas
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was born on June 23, 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia. Thomas considred 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 cum laude 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 the Reagan 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 EEOC. In 1989, then-President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and he was confirmed in March 1990. In 1991, after Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement, Bush nominated Thomas to replace him. In October of that year, Thomas was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of fifty-two to forty-eight.
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 then went on to attend Harvard Law School, becoming one of only nine women in a class of over five hundred; she later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she tied for first in her class when she graduated in 1959. Ginsburg was turned down for a clerkship with then-Justice Felix Frankfurter, apparently because she was a woman, but secured a clerkship with 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 ACLU Women's Rights Project, arguing several cases before the Supreme Court. She was nominated by then-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 then-President Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court. She was confirmed by a vote of ninety-six to three, and was sworn in as the Court's second female Justice in August 1993.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Associate Justice Stephen G. 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, then-President Jimmy Carter nominated Breyer to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; he was confirmed in December 1980 and became the Chief Judge in 1990. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton nominated Breyer to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Harry Blackmun. By a vote of eighty-seven to nine, Breyer was confirmed in August 1994.
Justice Samuel A. Alito
Associate Justice Samuel A. 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 I. Garth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third 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 twelve 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, then-President George H.W. Bush nominated Alito to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; he was confirmed unanimously in April of that year. In 2005, after White House Counsel Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination, then-President George W. Bush nominated Alito to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. By a vote of fifty-eight to forty-two, the Senate confirmed Alito in January 2006.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Associate Justice Sonia 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 then-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 then-President Bill Clinton to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She served on that court until 2009, when she was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice David Souter. By a vote of sixty-eight to thirty-one, she 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 summa cum laude 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 Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. 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 the Clinton Administration from 1995 until 1999 before returning to academia at Harvard Law School, where she became a full professor in 2001. In 2005, she became Harvard Law School's first female dean. In 2009, then-President-elect Barack Obama nominated her to become the first female Solicitor General of the United States; she was confirmed in March 2009. In May 2010, President Obama nominated Kagan to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens. She was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of sixty-three to thirty-seven and was sworn in on August 7, 2010.