What are the requirements?
By Don Valentine
The bar to sit on the highest court in the land is surprisingly low. In 1790 the completed SCOTUS went into service. The Constitution granted the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially those in which their constitutionality was at issue. The high court was also designated to oversee cases concerning treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice, and maritime jurisdiction.
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.
By contrast, the Founding Fathers were very meticulous on requirements to be President of the United States. According to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the President must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years old, and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
Our founding Fathers were prescient enough to have a backstop to protect the country from unqualified candidates. In order to get on the Bench, you must garner a Senate confirmation. In April 2017, the Senate mandated confirmation required 51 votes for Supreme Court nominations. This is commonly known as “The Nuclear Option.” If there is a tie, the Vice President who also presides over the Senate casts the deciding vote.
This seemingly equitable rubric has only placed 4 female jurists on the Bench during the 245 years of our union. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor arrived on the bench in 1981. It is commonly known that there have only been 2 Black jurists on the court, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. That diversity ratio is even more imbalanced when you consider the other races. There has been only 1 Hispanic Justice.
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