If you have ever wanted a top-level job in the federal government but feel that you don’t have the necessary education or experience, look no further than a spot on the Supreme Court of the United States. The Constitution of the United States places no requirements on any federal judge in terms of age, education, experience, or citizenship. In fact, you don’t even have to be a lawyer (although all of the Justices, thus far, have been.) If you can get the President to nominate you, and if the Senate confirms the nomination, the job is yours.
If you want evidence of this, take a look at those who have served as Justices of the Supreme Court. Of the 114 men and women who have served as of September 2019, only 49 earned law degrees.
It wasn’t until 1846, when Levi Woodbury was appointed to the Court, that the United States had a justice who had any kind of law school education. Until that time, the typical practice to become a lawyer was to either be self-taught or to be trained through an apprenticeship.
James F. Byrnes, who served on the Court from June 1941 to October 1942, was the last Justice without a law degree to be appointed. Stanley Forman Reed, who served on the Court from 1938 to 1957, was the last sitting Justice without a law degree.
Five Justices, James F. Byrnes, Samuel Chase, John Hessin Clarke, James Iredell, and Thomas Johnson, had no formal college education at all.
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