Supreme Court Rules, Practices, and Traditions


Who is the Clerk of the Court?

The Clerk of the Court is the person who oversees the administration of the Court’s docket and caseload. The position of clerk is established by federal law, 28 U.S.C. section 671, which provides in part: “The Supreme Court may appoint and fix the compensation of a clerk and one or more deputy clerks. The clerk shall be subject to removal by the Court. Deputy clerks shall be subject to removal by the clerk with the approval of the Court or the Chief Justice of the United States.”

There have been nineteen Clerks of the U.S. Supreme Court in its history, including:

John Tucker 1790–91
Samuel Bayard 1791–1800
Elias B. Caldwell 1800–25
William Griffith 1826–27
William T. Carroll 1827–63
D. W. Middleton 1863–80
James H. McKenney 1880–1913
James Maher 1913–21
William R. Stansbury 1921–27
Charles Elmore Copley 1927–52
Harold B. Willey 1952–56
John T. Fey 1956–58
James Browning 1958–61
John F. Davis 1961–70
E. Robert Seaver 1970–72
Michael Rodak 1972–81
Alexander Stevas 1981–85
Joseph F. Spaniol Jr. 1985–91
William K. Suter 1991–present

The nineteenth Clerk of the Court, William Suter, is seen in this artist’s sketch reading a document as John Roberts (foreground) is about to be sworn in as chief justice on October 3, 2005. The sitting justices are on the left and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, President George W. Bush, and Roberts’s family are seated on the far right. Dana Verkouteren/AP Images.

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