Can the president appoint anyone as a supreme court justice?

What requirements are there for becoming a supreme court justice? Do you need to be a lawyer or not?


2 Answers 2


Technically speaking, a Supreme Court justice does not have any required qualifications whatsoever in the constitution. That said, I don't believe that anyone has ever been appointed to the Supreme Court who was not already a lawyer.

Most have previous experience as a judge, although Elena Kagan is a current example of an exception. Prior to Kagan, the last exception was William Rehnquist, appointed by Richard Nixon.

The typical Supreme Court justice was previously a federal appeals court judge and had a "Well Qualified" rating from the American Bar Association.

I would find it unlikely for Donald Trump to nominate someone to the Supreme Court who was not a lawyer. All the possibilities that he mentioned are lawyers and most are judges. The Senate might not confirm such a nominee. But it is not prohibited.


From the FAQs section of supremecourt.gov, there is no minimum qualification to be a Justice.

The Constitution does not specify qualifications for Justices such as age, education, profession, or native-born citizenship. A Justice does not have to be a lawyer or a law school graduate, but all Justices have been trained in the law.

For Chief Justice,

Like the Associate Justices, the Chief Justice is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. There is no requirement that the Chief Justice serve as an Associate Justice, but 5 of the 17 Chief Justices have served on the Court as Associate Justices prior to becoming Chief Justice.

Apparently, there are no minimum requirements to be the Chief Justice. In theory, one may not be even a lawyer and still be the Chief Justice.

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