Anybody Can Become a Supreme Court Justice


It might surprise you to learn that you don’t have to have any qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. That’s because the Constitution doesn’t specify any qualifications, such as a age, education, profession, or that you must be a native-born citizen. A Justice also doesn’t have to be a lawyer or even a law school graduate. However, all Justices have been trained in the law. Many of the 18th and 19th century Justices studied law under a mentor because there were few law schools in the country at that time. The last Justice to be appointed who didn’t attend law school was James F. Burns (1941-1942). He didn’t even graduate from high school. Instead, he taught himself law, passing the bar at the age of 23. By the same token, Robert H. Jackson (1941-1954) didn’t attend an undergraduate college, but he did study law at Albany Law School in New York. However, because he was only 20 years old and one of the requirements for a law degree was that students must be 21, he was awarded a “diploma of graduation” instead of a law degree. In 1912, 29 years later, Albany Law School presented Jackson with his law degree. Now that you know there are no qualifications, are you even more frightened at the prospect of who the next Justice will be?