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Demography of Article III Judges, 1789-2020



This page outlines major changes in the composition of the Article III courts from their inception to recent times using information compiled in the Federal Judicial Center’s Biographical Directory of Article III Federal Judges, 1789-Present. The directory includes biographical data regarding judges presidentially appointed to serve during good behavior since 1789 on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeals, U.S. district courts and the U.S. Court of International Trade, as well as the former U.S. circuit courts, the Court of Claims, U.S. Customs Court, and the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.[1] Researchers interested in the specific documentation of data should contact the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center.  

This page is not designed as a comprehensive analysis of all available biographical data on all members of the federal judiciary. For example, this page and the directory on which it is based do not include bankruptcy or magistrate judges. The page instead aims to make some of the information contained in the Biographical Directory more accessible and comprehensible to a wider audience.  It also serves as a point of departure for scholars working with these data using emerging digital history techniques.

[1] While all judges included in this page served on at least one Article III court encompassed by the description above, some performed additional federal judicial service that is not reflected in these charts and graphs. In some instances, this additional service included judicial duties on courts, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals, which are or were staffed by Article III judges but for which those judges did not receive a separate judicial commission with Article III tenure and salary protections. For further information on these courts, see Other Federal Courts. From 1891 to 1911, several judges served simultaneously on U.S. circuit courts and U.S. courts of appeals. For purposes of clarity, these judges are counted as serving in both institutions in charts reflecting the number of judges serving in various courts or court types, but are counted once in all other charts. For purposes of consistency, the charts on this page incorporate judges of the Court of Claims and U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals as Article III judges throughout the existence of those courts. While the Article III status of these courts was sometimes contested, the status of each was eventually settled by a combination of statute and Supreme Court decision.