A closer look at the women who’ve served on the Supreme Court

Will there be a 6th appointed soon?

(L-R) U.S. Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, participate in an annual Women's History Month reception hosted by Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi in the U.S. capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. This year's event honored the women Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. (Photo by Allison Shelley) (Getty Images)

In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement announcement in January, President Joe Biden has nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to be his replacement.

If she is approved as the nominee by the Senate, Brown Jackson would be the first Black woman and sixth woman overall to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.

Here’s a closer look at the other five women who have served on the high court.

Sandra Day O’Connor

Year appointed: 1981

Appointed by: President Ronald Reagan

Years served: 1981-2006

Overview: O’Connor made history by becoming the first woman ever to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court when she was nominated by Reagan to replace the retiring Potter Stewart. Her hearing on the Senate floor was the first-ever confirmation for a Supreme Court justice that was televised. In 2009, she was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. O’Connor turned 91 earlier this year.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Year appointed: 1993

Appointed by: President Bill Clinton

Years served: 1993-2020

Overview: Heralded as a champion of gender equality and women’s rights, Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 to replace the seat left open by Byron White’s retirement. She became the longest-serving Jewish justice and was still a court justice until her passing in 2020 at age 87.

Sonia Sotomayor

Year appointed: 2009

Appointed by: President Obama

Years served: 2009-present

Overview: The 67-year-old Sotomayor became the first Hispanic and Latina justice of the Supreme Court when she was appointed by Obama to fill a seat vacated by the retirement of David Souter. In addition to being appointed by a Democratic president in Obama, Sotomayor in 1992 was nominated to the U.S. District Court by Republican president George H.W. Bush.

Elena Kagan

Year appointed: 2010

Appointed by: President Obama

Years served: 2010-present

Overview: The 61-year-old Kagan was the first female dean at the Harvard Law School and became Solicitor General of the United States under Obama in 2009. A year later, Obama appointed her to take over the seat left by the retirement of John Paul Stevens.

Amy Coney Barrett

Year appointed: 2020

Appointed by: President Trump

Years served: 2020-present

Overview: A Republican, the 50-year-old Barrett was nominated by Trump after the passing of Ginsburg. Her nomination and appointment became a heated political battle because it took place right before the 2020 Presidential election, and Ginsburg didn’t want her replacement to be chosen until the election determined who the President would be. The then Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-48 for her nomination and she was sworn in. She was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 2017 to 2020.

This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.