Judicial Tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court, 1790-1868: Frustration, Resignation, and Expiration on the Bench
Richard L. Vining Jr.
University of Georgia - Department of Political Science
Susan Navarro Smelcer
Emory University - Department of Political Science
Christopher J. Zorn
Pennsylvania State University
Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 06-10
Though scholars have found that modern justices are frequently motivated to step down by political circumstances, we believe that their long-departed predecessors rarely had such a luxury. Specifically, we suggest that the focus on political factors often present in this literature is inappropriate in the period prior to the Judiciary Act of 1869 (16 Stat. 44). The absence of pensions and the rigors of circuit duty prevented early justices from reacting to political stimuli in the same manner as recent justices. In support of this proposition, we examine the effects of personal, institutional, and political factors on Supreme Court turnover, positing that departure behavior prior to the advent of judicial pensions was driven primarily by justices' personal and institutional, rather than political, circumstances.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: Supreme Court, justices, law, retirement, history
JEL Classification: J10, N31, K49
Date posted: March 21, 2006