Justices

Supreme Court | 2019-10-08 20:11:30

Justices


Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito. Back row: Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States


Nine Justices make up the current Supreme Court: one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr., is the 17th Chief Justice of the United States, and there have been 102 Associate Justices in the Court’s history.




Opinions

The term "opinions," as used here, refers to several types of writing by the Justices.

The most well known are the opinions of the Court announced in cases in which the Court has heard oral argument. Each sets out the Court’s judgment and its reasoning. The Justice who authors the majority or principal opinion summarizes the opinion from the bench during a regularly scheduled session of the Court. Shortly thereafter, a copy of the opinion is posted on this website.

The Court may also dispose of cases in per curiam opinions, which do not identify the author. These opinions frequently resolve cases summarily, often without oral argument, but they have been issued in important argued cases, such as Bush v. Gore, 531 U. S. 98, and the campaign finance case of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1.

In-chambers opinions are written by an individual Justice to dispose of an application by a party for interim relief, e.g., for a stay of the judgment of the court below, for vacation of a stay, or for a temporary injunction.

Justices may also write opinions relating to the orders of the Court, e.g., to dissent from a denial of certiorari or to concur in that denial.

All opinions are later compiled and printed in the United States Reports, the Court’s official publication. Electronic versions of the bound volumes are posted on this website.


Information about Opinions

Where to Obtain Supreme Court Opinions

Dates of Early Supreme Court Decisions and Arguments: 2 Dall. Through 107 U.S. (PDF)