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Date Next SCOTUS Vacancy Arises


The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases, such as suits between two or more states, and those involving ambassadors.

It also has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction.

The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about 100–150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review.

Because justices can serve for life, potentially spending decades on the Court, vacancies are relatively rare and are considered major political events in the United States.

According to federal statute, the Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight Associate Justices. Once appointed, justices have lifetime tenure unless they resign, retire, or are removed from office.

The most recent vacancy arose in 2020, when on September 18, 2020, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Judge Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to fill the vacancy that arose.

When will the next US Supreme Court vacancy arise?

For the purposes of this question, a vacancy arises when a sitting justice dies, is removed from office, or on the date that their resignation or retirement (e.g. the assumption of senior status) takes effect (as opposed to the date that the intention to resign or retire is announced). A vacancy will also be considered to arise on the date it becomes legally permissible for a president to nominate a new justice in the event that new seats are added to the court.

This question closes retroactively one day before a sitting justice dies, announces his or her intention to resign or retire, or proceedings begin to remove him or her from office. Such proceedings are deemed to begin when a majority of the House of Representatives votes to approve an indictment to impeach a sitting justice.

If the Supreme Court is abolished and replaced with a new final appellate body before this question resolves, this question resolves ambiguously.

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