The Who2 Blog

Chief Justice Tenures

A side note to the confirmation of John Roberts, Jr. as Chief Justice of the United States: rather interesting how few Chief Justices there have been in American history, considering that the post has existed since John Jay first took it in 1789.

Roberts is only the 17th man to hold the post (if you toss out William Cushing, who either took the job for a few days and then resigned, or turned it down altogether, in 1796). Wikipedia has a good clear list.

That makes 216 years and 16 Chief Justices before Roberts, or an average tenure of 13.5 years.

By contrast, in the same amount of time the country has had 43 presidents, for an average tenure of 5.02 years. That 5.02 number seems surprisingly high, actually — one might have thought we had many more presidents who lasted one term or less. Franklin Roosevelt and his 12+ years warp the curve, of course.

An excellent Supreme Court resource, by the way, is Oyez. (The name comes from the traditional cry of “Oyez, oyez, oyez” used to open sessions of the court.)

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