Supreme Court appointment gaps
bryanw at TJSL.EDU
Mon Apr 2 18:37:30 PDT 2001
This is probably not an original observation, but, prompted by the recent
on-list speculations about Supreme Court retirements (including my own):
The current gap since the last Supreme Court appointment -- 7 years since
Breyer in 1994 -- is the longest in 180 years, and the second longest ever
in the history of the Court, first place going to the astonishing 12-year
gap between the appointments of Justices Story and Thompson in 1811 and
The third-longest gaps were three of six years:
1975-81 (Stevens to O'Connor)
1882-88 (Blatchford to Lamar)
1864-70 (Chase to Strong) (though I would argue this one was "artificial"
since Congress deliberately abolished seats to keep Andrew Johnson from
Five-year gaps appear to have been fairly common.
Random chance or any lessons to be drawn? Two of the four longest "gaps
that count" have been within the last quarter century.
Bryan Wildenthal, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
More information about the Conlawprof