Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

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The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the judicial branch of the government of the United States, and presides over the U.S. Supreme Court. The highest judicial officer in the country, the Chief Justice leads the business of the Supreme Court and presides over the Senate during impeachment trials of the President. In modern tradition, the Chief Justice also has the duty of administering the oath of office to the President, but this is not required by the Constitution or any other law.

The seventeenth and current Chief Justice is John Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, and took office on September 29, 2005 upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

History

The Constitution of the United States does not explicitly establish the office of Chief Justice but presupposes its existence with a single reference in Article I, Section 3: "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside." Nothing more is said in the Constitution regarding the office, including any further distinction between the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, who are never mentioned in the Constitution.

The Chief Justice, like the other justices, is nominated by the President and confirmed to sit on the Court by the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Constitution states that all justices of the Court "shall hold their offices during good behavior," meaning that appointments are for life: they end only when a justice chooses to retire, dies, or is impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate.

Some chief justices, like William H. Rehnquist, were elevated by the President after having served previously on the bench as an Associate Justice. Justices who are elevated to the position of Chief Justice from that of Associate Justice must again be confirmed by the Senate (a rejection by the Senate, however, does not end their tenure as an associate justice; it merely precludes them from serving as Chief Justice). Most chief justices, including Roberts, have been nominated to the highest position on the Court without any previous experience on the Court; indeed some, like John Marshall and Earl Warren, were selected without any prior judicial experience.

The office is often but incorrectly referred to as "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court." Title 28, United States Code, Sec. 1 specifies the title as "Chief Justice of the United States," and thus, not just of the Court itself. The title changed at the suggestion of sixth Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who wished to emphasize the Court's role as a coequal branch of government. By contrast, the other eight members of the Court are Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, not "Associate Justices of the United States."

The salary of the Chief Justice is set by Congress, and it is slightly higher than that of the Associate Justices. It is $212,100 per annum as of 2007 [1] (see 28 U.S.C.  5).

Duties

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The current Chief Justice, John Roberts, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 29, 2005 by a vote of 78-22.


In addition to the duties of the associate justices, the Chief Justice has several unique duties.

Impeachment trials

Article I, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that the Chief Justice shall preside over impeachment trials of the President of the United States in the U.S. Senate. Two Chief Justices, Salmon P. Chase and William Rehnquist, have had the duty of presiding over the trial in the Senate that follows an impeachment of the President – Chase in 1868 over the proceedings of President Andrew Johnson and Rehnquist in 1999 over the proceedings against President Bill Clinton.

Further, the Chief Justice would preside over the impeachment trial of the Vice President if, under the terms of the 25th Amendment, the Vice President is serving as Acting President. However, no Vice President has been impeached (though Spiro Agnew resigned under threat of impeachment), and none has been Acting President for more than a few hours.

Seniority

The Chief Justice is considered to be the justice with most seniority, independent of the number of years of service in the Court. As a result, the Chief Justice chairs the conferences where cases are discussed and voted on by the justices. The Chief Justice normally speaks first, and so has great influence in framing the discussion.

The Chief Justice sets the agenda for the weekly meetings where the justices review the petitions for certiorari, to decide whether to hear or deny each case. Less than one percent of cases petitioned to the Supreme Court are agreed to be heard. While Associate Justices may append items to the weekly agenda, in practice this initial agenda-setting power of the Chief Justice has significant influence over the direction of the court.

Despite the seniority and added prestige, the Chief Justice's vote carries no more legal weight than those of the other eight justices. However, in any vote, the most senior justice in the majority has the power to decide who will write the Opinion of the Court. Since the Chief Justice is always considered the most senior member, if he or she is in the majority then the Chief Justice decides who will write the Opinion of the Court. This power to determine the author of the Court's opinion (including the choice to select him or herself) allows a Chief Justice who is in the majority to influence the historical record. Two justices in the same majority, given the opportunity, might write very different majority opinions (as evidenced by many concurring opinions); being assigned the majority may also cement the vote of an Associate who is viewed as only marginally in the majority (a tactic that was reportedly used to some effect by Earl Warren). A Chief Justice who knows his Associates can therefore do much—by the simple act of selecting the justice who writes the Opinion of the Court—to affect the "flavor" of the opinion, which in turn can impact the interpretation of that opinion in cases before lower courts in the years to come. It is said that some chief justices, notably Earl Warren and Warren Burger, sometimes switched votes to a majority they disagreed with in order to be able to use this prerogative of the Chief Justice to dictate who would write the opinion.

Oath of office

The Chief Justice administers the oath of office at the inauguration of the President of the United States. This is a traditional rather than constitutional responsibility of the Chief Justice. All federal and state judges, as well as notaries public, are empowered by law to administer oaths and affirmations.

The Chief Justice of the United States did not administer the initial oath of office to seven Presidents.[1] Robert Livingston, as Chancellor of the State of New York, administered the oath of office to George Washington at his first inauguration; William Cushing, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, administered the second. Calvin Coolidge's father, a notary public, administered the oath to his son after the death of Warren Harding.[2] This, however, was contested upon Coolidge's return to Washington and his oath was re administered by Judge A. Hoehling of the District of Columbia Supreme Court.[3] United States district court Judge Sarah T. Hughes administered the oath to Lyndon Johnson after the John F. Kennedy assassination. John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Chester A. Arthur, and Theodore Roosevelt's initial oaths reflected the unexpected nature of their taking office.

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William Rehnquist (left) takes the oath as Chief Justice from retiring Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1986, as his wife, Natalie, holds the Bible and President Ronald Reagan (far right, by flag) looks on.

Other duties

The Chief Justice also:

List of Chief Justices

* Recess appointment, later rejected by the Senate
** Was elevated from Associate Justice
*** Also served as U.S. President
§ Served previously as Associate Justice
§§ Historians disagree as to whether he resigned or declined the commission ([2])
Died in office
No. Chief Justice Image Term of Office Appointed by President
1John JayOctober 19, 1789June 29, 1795George Washington
2John RutledgeJuly 1, 1795December 15, 1795George Washington
William Cushing**§§February 3, 1796February 5, 1796George Washington
3Oliver EllsworthMarch 8, 1796December 15, 1800George Washington
4John MarshallFebruary 4, 1801July 6, 1835John Adams (F)
5Roger Brooke TaneyMarch 28, 1836October 12, 1864Andrew Jackson (D)
6Salmon Portland ChaseDecember 15, 1864May 7, 1873Abraham Lincoln (R)
7Morrison Remick WaiteMarch 4, 1874March 23, 1888Ulysses S. Grant (R)
8Melville Weston FullerOctober 8, 1888July 4, 1910Grover Cleveland (D)
9Edward Douglass White**December 19, 1910May 19, 1921William Howard Taft (R)
10William Howard Taft***July 11, 1921February 3, 1930Warren G. Harding (R)
11Charles Evans Hughes §February 24, 1930June 30, 1941Herbert Hoover (R)
12Harlan Fiske Stone**July 3, 1941April 22, 1946Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
13Frederick Moore VinsonJune 24, 1946September 8, 1953Harry S Truman (D)
14Earl WarrenOctober 5, 1953June 23, 1969Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
15Warren Earl BurgerJune 23, 1969September 26, 1986Richard Nixon (R)
16William Hubbs Rehnquist**September 26, 1986September 3, 2005Ronald Reagan (R)
17John Glover Roberts, Jr.September 29, 2005–presentGeorge W. Bush (R)

See also

Notes

Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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United States of America

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United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
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History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
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United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
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United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
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John Glover Roberts, Jr. (born January 27 1955) is the seventeenth and current Chief Justice of the United States. Before joining the Supreme Court on September 29, 2005, Roberts was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for two years.
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United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is currently the most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He joined the Court in 1975 and is the oldest and longest serving incumbent member of the Court.
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Antonin Gregory Scalia   (born March 11, 1936[1]) is an American jurist and the second most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
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Anthony McLeod Kennedy (born July 23, 1936) has been an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1988. Appointed by conservative President Ronald Reagan, he acts as the Court's swing vote in many cases, and as a result has held special prominence in many politically
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David Hackett Souter (born September 17, 1939) has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1990. He filled the seat vacated by William J. Brennan. On the Court he usually votes with the liberal wing, though not as consistently as his predecessor.
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Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist and has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. He is the second African American to serve on the nation's highest court, after Justice Thurgood Marshall.
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Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15 1933, Brooklyn, New York) is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Having spent 13 years as a federal judge, but not being a career jurist, she is unique as a Supreme Court justice, having spent the majority of her career as an
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Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15, 1938) is an American attorney, political figure, and jurist. Since 1994, he has served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. (born April 1, 1950) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School, Alito served as a United States attorney and a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
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United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26 1930) is an American jurist who served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was considered a strict constructionist.
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<onlyinclude>This is a list of past and present Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are nominated by the President of the United States and approved by the U.S.
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J. Roberts September 29, 2005 –
present
Associate Justice (Seat 1)
This seat was established on September 24, 1789 by the Judiciary Act of 1789 [see 1 Stat. 73].
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United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
United States Supreme Court

The Court
Decisions Process
History Building
Current membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the United States




Federal government
Constitution
Taxation

President Vice President
Cabinet


Congress
Senate
..... Click the link for more information.
United States of America

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the United States




Federal government
Constitution
Taxation

President Vice President
Cabinet


Congress
Senate
..... Click the link for more information.
Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism.
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