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Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the Judicial Branch of
the government of the United States, and presides over the Supreme Court of
the United States. The office is often, and incorrectly, referred to as
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is composed of nine
members, though that number has varied over the years, headed by the Chief
Justice. The Chief Justice, like all the other justices, is nominated by the
President and confirmed to sit on the court by the U.S. Senate. Some
justices, like William H. Rehnquist, were elevated to the highest post on
the court by the President after having served previously on the bench as
associate justice. Others, like William Howard Taft, were nominated to the
highest bench without any previous experience on the court.
In addition to the duties of the Associate Justices, the Chief Justice has
the following duties:
* If the Chief Justice is in the majority on a Supreme Court case, he or
she may decide to write the Opinion of the Court, or may assign it to
an associate justice of his or her choice.
* Officiates at the inauguration of the President of the United States.
* Presides when the Senate tries impeachments of the President of the
o Two Chief Justices, Salmon P. Chase and William Rehnquist, have
had the duty of presiding over Presidential impeachments and
trials--Chase in 1868 over the proceedings of President Andrew
Johnson and Rehnquist in 1998 over the proceeding against Bill
* Serves as the Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institute.
No. Chief Justice Years of Service Appointed by President
1 John Jay 1789-1795 George Washington
2 John Rutledge 1795 George Washington
3 Oliver Ellsworth 1796-1800 George Washington
4 John Marshall 1801-1835 John Adams
5 Roger Taney 1836-1864 Andrew Jackson
6 Salmon P. Chase 1864-1873 Abraham Lincoln
7 Morrison Waite 1874-1888 Ulysses S. Grant
8 Melville Fuller 1888-1910 Grover Cleveland
9 Edward Douglass White† 1910-1921 William Howard Taft
10 William Howard Taft 1921-1930 Warren G. Harding
11 Charles Evans Hughes 1930-1941 Herbert Hoover
12 Harlan Stone† 1941-1946 Franklin Delano
13 Fred Vinson 1946-1953 Harry S. Truman
14 Earl Warren 1953-1969 Dwight D. Eisenhower
15 Warren E. Burger 1969-1986 Richard Nixon
16 William Rehnquist† 1986-present Ronald Reagan
† Denotes elevation from associate justice.