logo

Was every Supreme Court Justice a white man until 1981?

Tuesday, February 15, 2022
By Austin Tannenbaum
NO

There was one non-white Supreme Court justice on the bench before 1981: civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed in 1967.

In 2018, CNN published an article highlighting that all but six Supreme Court justices have been white men. The exceptions at the time were:

  • Thurgood Marshall (1967-1991).
  • Sandra Day O'Connor (1981-2006).
  • Clarence Thomas (1991-present).
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993-2020).
  • Sonia Sotomayor (2009-present).
  • Elena Kagan (2010-present).

Since then, two more justices have been appointed. One was Amy Coney Barret, bringing the total number of non-white justices to seven of the 115 who have served on the court as of February 2022.

Last month, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. President Biden is expected to nominate a Black woman to replace him.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Between 2020 and 2022, under close editorial supervision, Gigafact contracted a group of freelance writers and editors to test the concepts for fact briefs and provide inputs to our software development process. We call this effort Gigafact Foundry. Over the course of these two years, Gigafact Foundry writers published over 1500 fact briefs in response to claims they found online. Their important work forms the basis of Gigafact formats and editorial guidelines, and is available to the public on Gigafact.org. Readers should be aware that while there is still a lot of relevant information to be found, not all fact briefs produced by Gigafact Foundry reflect Gigafact's current methods and standards for fact briefs. If you come across any that you feel are out of date and need to be looked at with fresh eyes, don't hesitate to contact us at support@gigafact.org.
FACT BRIEF BY
facebook
twitter
email
email