Going back to its inception, the United States Supreme Court has been made up of 106 combinations of Justices. Professor Benjamin H. Barton of the University of Tennessee has run the data and come to a conclusion. The current version of the Court is an outlier when compared historically to the 105 that preceded it.
Here are a few of the findings;
• This is the first Supreme Court with three women justices.
• This is the first Court with no protestant justices.
• Four of the five boroughs of New York City are represented, but no state between the east coast and California has a native on the Court.
• The current justices have spent more time in academia than any other Supreme Court combination.
• The current justices have spent more time appellate judging, and less as trial judges, than any other Court. Only Justice Sotomayor ever served as a trial judge.
• They have more combined pre-court time in Washington D. C. than any Court in history. But, this is the only Court in our history that has no member to have served in elective office.
• They have spent the most combined time in elite, primarily Ivy League, undergraduate and law schools.
• They have the least combined practical experience in history, including time in private practice that is less than 1/3 that of the average Justices, 6 years average now compared to a 17 year average historically. Two current Justices never worked in private practice.
What does Professor Barton conclude from this data? First, that the current make-up of the Supreme Court qualifies it as an outlier. Second,
“These cloistered and neutral experiences offer limited opportunities for the development of the most critical judicial virtue: practical wisdom.”
You can read more at WaPo.
Contributor, aka tidbits. Retired attorney in complex litigation, death penalty defense and constitutional law. Former Nat’l Board Chair: Alzheimer’s Association. Served on multiple political campaigns, including two for U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield (R-OR). Contributing author to three legal books and multiple legal publications.