Supreme Court Justices with no prior judicial experience
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Louis Brandeis (Associate Justice, 1916 - 1939): Justice Brandeis was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Wilson had offered him a cabinet position three years earlier but Brandeis declined, preferring to remain a lawyer and investigate the concentration of wealth by large companies, culminating in his 1914 book, “Other People’s Money, and How the Bankers Use It.” After a fierce political battle, Brandeis was seated as an associate justice in June, 1916. Brandeis is seen here (first l.) in a photo of the US Supreme Court Justices in their robes in New York City in 1917. AP/FILE
Charles Evans Hughes (1910-1916; 1930-1941): Justice Hughes had a long political career – but no judicial experience – before he was seated as the 11th chief justice of the United States in 1930. Hughes was governor of New York and US secretary of State before President Taft appointed Hughes as an associate justice in 1910. Hughes left the court to become the Republican candidate in the 1916 Presidential election. He lost to President Woodrow Wilson and was later reappointed to the court as chief justice by President Herbert Hoover in 1930. Newscom/FILE
Felix Frankfurter (1939-1962): Justice Frankfurter was a trusted adviser of President Franklin Roosevelt who taught law at Harvard and Oxford. After Justice Benjamin Cardozo died in 1938, Roosevelt asked his then-adviser for recommendations for prospective candidates. None suited Roosevelt’s criteria, so he nominated Frankfurter, who had no prior experience on the bench, but was confirmed without dissent. Harris and Ewing/Library of Congress
Earl Warren (Chief Justice, Supreme Court 1953 – 1969): Justice Warren was a Republican governor of California when he was nominated by President Eisenhower in 1953. Warren had never been a judge and was appointed Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, purportedly in exchange for offering to support Eisenhower’s campaign. AP/FILE
Abe Fortas (1965-1969): Justice Fortas became an associate justice when his longtime friend President Lyndon Johnson nominated him because he supported Johnson’s Great Society reforms. Fortas had no prior experience on the bench. Chief Justice Earl Warren persuaded Fortas to resign in 1969, after details emerged that Fortas was accepting money from a Wall Street financier who was under investigation for securities violations. The Christian Science Monitor/FILE
Hugo Black (Associate Justice, 1937 – 1971): Justice Black’s sole judicial experience was as a part-time police court judge in Birmingham, Alabama from 1911 to 1914, at which time he became the public prosecutor for the county. After serving in the military in World War I and returning to practice law, Black was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1927 as a Democrat. Roosevelt nominated Black to the Court in 1927 and he was confirmed the next day. Benjamin E. Forte/CNP/Newscom/FILE
Lewis Powell Jr. (1972-1987): Justice Powell was a reluctant associate justice. President Richard Nixon asked Powell to join the Supreme Court in 1969, but Powell demurred. When Nixon asked him again in 1971, he reluctantly accepted after being persuaded it was his duty to the nation. Prior to his nomination, Powell worked at a lucrative private practice law firm and had no judicial experience. He resigned from his post in 1987. AP/FILE
Byron White (Associate Justice 1962 – 1993): Justice White played professional football for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Lions as a running back, the latter while pursuing a law degree at Yale. After becoming a lawyer in private practice in Colorado, he organized John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in the state and received a deputy attorney general appointment by President Kennedy in 1961. In 1962 Kennedy nominated him for the Supreme Court. Ira Schwarz/Reuters/FILE
William Rehnquist (1986 – 2005): Justice Rehnquist was the US assistant attorney general when President Richard Nixon nominated him in 1971. Rehnquist was seated as an associate justice in 1972; When chief justice Warren Burger retired in 1986, Rehnquist took his post. Justice Thurgood Marshall called him 'a great chief justice.' Rehnquist is seen in this December 2003 photo taken at the Supreme Court in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/AP/FILE
Elena Kagan (Nominee for Associate Justice): Kagan is the US solicitor general, the government’s chief lawyer at the high court. Ms. Kagan was the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female US solicitor general, but she has no judicial experience on the bench, a point which critics are likely to raise at her confirmation hearing. Here, President Barack Obama introduces Kagan as his choice for Supreme Court justice in the East Room of the White House in Washington on May 10. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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