What Are Some of the Requirements to Be a Candidate for the Supreme Court?


Quick Answer

In the text of the Constitution, there are no written age or citizenship restrictions for being a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, unlike for members of Congress or the Executive Branch. However, the Justices are nominated by the President and approved by Congress rather than elected.

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Full Answer

Despite a lack of Constitutional restrictions, Justices are preferably well educated in law. Out of the nine Justices of 2015, five have received degrees from Harvard Law School, and two more hold degrees from Yale. The last example of a Supreme Court Justice not having a law degree was James Byrnes, a high school dropout who taught himself law and sat on the bench for less than two years between 1941 to 1942.

In addition, most Supreme Court Justices are usually selected only after decades of dedication to the law and public service. Many of them, such as Chief Justice John Roberts, worked for the Attorney General first. Others rose up from Appellate Courts, including Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a professor of law at Rutgers and an important figure for the American Civil Liberties Union before taking her seat on the bench.

Justices also are appointed to lifetime terms upon nomination and approval. That being said, rarely do seats on the Court open up.

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