Beyond human lifespan there is no maximum time a justice may serve, but is there a minimum requirement that a justice is required to serve?

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    If a justice decided to resign, how would you prevent it?
    – SJuan76
    Sep 27, 2020 at 17:39
  • @SJuan76 it could be an unenforced agreement, or, like in many companies, there could be reduced compensation resulting from leaving before the minimum term were up.
    – mherzl
    Sep 27, 2020 at 22:01
  • 2
    @SJuan76 or if a justice died inconveniently
    – emory
    Sep 28, 2020 at 12:31
  • 1
    @emory: I know you didn't mean it that way, but that's an amusing answer to SJuan76's question about how to prevent justices from deciding to resign. "So, thinking about resigning from the Supreme Court, are we? Sure would be a shame if you were to... die inconveniently." ;) Sep 28, 2020 at 14:08
  • @Quuxplusone RBG did not have my permission to die. The way I figure it, she owes me another couple of months.
    – emory
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


Not in the Constitution. Justices "hold their Offices during good Behaviour".

In the tradition and convention that governs the actual function of the US government, Justices can resign their office. There is no notice period and a Judge could resign as their first and only act in the office. It has never happened, neither in the supreme court nor in any inferior court.

  • 2
    What exactly is your point here in differentiating big C and small c here? That's not a criticism, by the way. I'm just curious because it's unclear to me what you mean by (small c).
    – user29681
    Sep 27, 2020 at 19:56
  • I mean the set of rules which determine the government of the USA which include the Documented Constitution, judgments of SCOTUS various statutes (like the date of elections) House rules, traditions, conventions (like the convention that the defeated candidate concede gracefully) There is nothing in the Constitution about justices resigning. But it is permitted in the constituion.
    – James K
    Sep 27, 2020 at 20:30
  • 3
    Ah, so just to make sure I understand, "Constitution" here means the U.S. Constitution, and "constitution" here encompasses tradition and convention, yes?
    – user29681
    Sep 27, 2020 at 20:33
  • That is a succinct way of saying it, yes.
    – James K
    Sep 27, 2020 at 20:35

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