What Are the Qualifications to Become a Supreme Court Justice?

qualifications-become-supreme-court-justice Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The United States Constitution does not specify any qualifications for Supreme Court justices, and no special requirements exist concerning age, education, profession, experience or citizenship. Justices do not need to have particular legal experience, nor do they need to be lawyers. However, as of 2014, all justices have had some sort of preparation in law.

For example, during the 18th and 19th centuries, the United States did not have many law schools. Consequently, some of the justices were trained by legal mentors.

Certain justices followed unusual paths to the Supreme Court. For instance, James F. Byrnes, who served on the bench in 1941 and 1942, never finished high school. A self-taught lawyer, Byrnes passed the bar when he was 23 years old. Another example concerns Robert H. Jackson, who sat on the Supreme Court from 1941 to 1954. Though he never earned a bachelor's degree, Jackson completed Albany Law School in New York when he was 20 but was not awarded the advance degree at the time because rules stated that graduates from the program had to be at least 21. Instead, Jackson was issued a "diploma of graduation." Albany Law School did award him the degree almost 30 years later. The graduation year was identified as 1912.