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Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court - Nomination Process, Duties, Salary & More!

Updated on June 4, 2009

An Overview, History and Description of the Position of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

It is a great honor and privilege to become the President of the United States of America and so far, our country has been led under the guidance of 44 Presidents. A position even rarer and perhaps almost as prestigious as that of Commander in Chief is being appointed the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Up until now, there have only been 17 men that have fulfilled the position that requires a great deal of skill, dedication, and knowledge.

John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, which is the highest and most powerful court in the nation. Judge John Jay served from 1789-1795, and was appointed by the nation’s first President, George Washington. The Supreme Court is composed of one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices, all of which are nominated by the President and then confirmed by the United States Senate.

Many public service occupations have term limits, however the term of Chief Justice of the United States is for life, and 9 past Chief Justices have served until their death. The only way that a Chief Justice’s term can end is either through their resignation or through impeachment. Article III of the United States Constitution states that Justices should receive compensation for their services. As of January 2007, the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, is paid $212,100 per year for his service. The Associate Justices are paid $203,000 per year. Both of these salaries are decided upon by the United States Congress.

Selection of a Chief Justice must not be taken lightly. This being the case, the power to nominate an individual to the Supreme Court is held by the President of the United States. Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states that the President of the United States “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…Judges of the Supreme Court.”

Once the President has chosen the name of the individual to be nominated, the name will then be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to the Federal Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate. The FBI will run its own background check into the nominee’s history to make sure no criminal past exists. The Senate’s Judiciary Committee will then conduct a hearing that includes the soliciting of many questions, some of which can be very personal, from the nominee and from witnesses that will testify to the nominee’s behavior, character, experience, etc. If the Senate’s Judiciary Committee approves the nominee, the nomination will then be sent to the entire Senate to officially confirm by voting on it.

Current Chief Justice John G. Roberts was nominated by President Bush in July of 2005 to replace Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who had just announced that she would resign her duties once her seat had been filled. However, in September of 2005, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist passed away and President Bush withdrew his nomination of John Roberts for the newly available position of Associate Justice and nominated him to take on the responsibility of being the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to take the place of Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Samuel Alito was later confirmed by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and the Senate as the new Associate Justice by a vote of 58-42. Senator John Kerry (D- Massachusetts) attempted to filibuster Samuel Alito’s confirmation, but failed.

Chief Justice John Roberts was approved by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee by a 13-5 vote. His nomination approval was then brought before the entire Senate, and on September 29, 2005 John Roberts was confirmed as being the 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. John Roberts won by the vote of 78-22, when his nomination was brought before the entire Senate.

Chief Justice John Roberts was without a doubt nominated by President Bush because of his impressive past history of education, employment and leadership. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1979. He later went on to become a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General and then served as Associate Counsel to the Reagan White House. After that, he entered into private practice at a D.C. law firm and was later hired the President H.W. Bush’s administration as the United States Solicitor General, which is the position of someone appointed to serve as the attorney for the Government of the United States when it needs to be heard before the Supreme Court.

The duties of the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court include the same duties as the Associate Justices of the United States Supreme Court as well as some additional and very important ones. The basic duties of any Justice of the United States Supreme Court involve voting on cases that appear before the Court. Each Justice of the United States, including the Chief Justice, has one vote towards the outcome of the case. The Chief Justice also has the responsibility to oversee any impeachment trial that occurs in the United States Senate and also administers the oath of office to the President at every Presidential Inauguration. The Chief Justice also decides the agenda for weekly meetings and has much influence over what cases are to be heard before the court. He is also responsible for writing a yearly report to Congress about the condition of the federal court system. In addition to these duties, the Chief Justice also serves as the head of the Judicial Conference of the United States and appoints members to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. By tradition, the Chief Justice also serves as the Chancellor of the Smithsonian and has a place on the boards of the Hirshorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

In Conclusion, the United States Supreme Court is the most highest and powerful court in the nation. Even though the process of nominating and confirming Supreme Court Justices may seem to be a meticulous process, this process is a significant and crucial part in our nation’s history in order to make sure that the best suited candidate is given the position.


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    • profile image

      cindy 7 years ago

      good info!

    • George J Hardy profile image

      George J Hardy 7 years ago from Southern New Jersey

      Impressive command of the functions of this branch of the government.Saw your bio - wish you well in your pursuits.

    • Tony Ballatore profile image

      Tony Ballatore 8 years ago

      Very nice work.

      Thanks for the objective view & patriotic perspective.


    • profile image

      smores !!  8 years ago

      WOW it was intresting

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 8 years ago from Texas

      Great information. Good job!

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you for the information. A very interesting subject.