Judging Justices: Which US Supreme Court Justice are you most closely connected to?

+22 votes

John Jay

This week's Example Profile of the Week is John Jay, first chief justice of the US Supreme Court. 

Ruth Bader GinsburgFeatured alongside him are other US Supreme Court justices:

Who are you most closely connected to? If you're one of the 20,561,000 of us who are connected to each other on our big tree you can check with the Connection Finder.

You can also check for shared ancestors with the Relationship Finder. Are you a cousin to any of them?

Let us know below!

P.S. Help us choose and improve profiles for next week's feature: Mars in Opposition.

WikiTree profile: John Jay
in The Tree House by Abby Glann G2G6 Pilot (534k points)
edited by Chris Whitten
Closest relationship from this list is Oliver Wendell Holmes -- 7th cousin, 4x removed (making 18 degrees of connection). Interestingly, my grandfather had an uncle who argued a famous case before Holmes.

However, the closest relationships to Supreme Court justices that I am aware of is not to any of the listed justices but rather to the two John Marshall Harlans. John Marshall Harlan I, 4th cousin 5 x removed)  -- the "Great Dissenter" in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case, and his grandson, John Marshall Harlan II (6th cousin, 3x removed), whose ascession to the court was intentionally delayed by southern Senators to prevent him from being seated in time to participate in the Brown v. Board of Education case.

42 Answers

+11 votes

I am most closely connected to William Douglas and Oliver Holmes at 19 degrees.

  • 19 degrees from William Douglas
    • 4 branches (7-3-5-5)
    • updated 12 Jun 2022: was 22
  • 19 degrees from Oliver Holmes
    • 4 branches (2-10-4-4)
    • updated 12 Jun 2022: was 21
  • 20 degrees from John Jay
    • 4 branches (3-3-5-10)
  • 22 degrees from Potter Stewart
    • 5 branches (4-9-3-2-5)
  • 23 degrees from Louis Brandeis
    • 4 branches (3-7-2-12)
  • 26 degrees from Abraham Fortas
    • 6 branches (1-5-10-2-2-7)
    • updated 12 Jun 2022: was 28
  • 27 degrees from Antonin Scalia
    • 5 branches (3-2-14-2-7)
    • updated 12 Jun 2022: was 26
  • 30 degrees from Thurgood Marshall
    • 7 branches (4-3-2-7-8-5-2)
    • updated 12 Jun 2022: was 33
  • 39 degrees from Ruth Ginsburg
    • 10 branches (3-4-5-2-2-4-7-5-2-6)
    • updated 12 Jun 2022: was 40
by Tommy Buch G2G6 Pilot (915k points)
edited by Tommy Buch
+11 votes
17 degrees from John Jay, 18 from Oliver Holmes.
by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (496k points)
Very good.. I am 22 degrees from Oliver Holmes via my direct Moon  Mormon ancestors who emigrated from Lancashire UK in 1840s to Utah.

And 6 other supreme Court judges
+11 votes
1) I'm 16 degrees from Oliver Holmes and we are 8th cousins 4X removed through common ancestor David Stone.

2) I'm 16 degrees from William Douglas and we are 7th cousins 1X removed through common ancestor John Carter, Jr.
by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (653k points)
+10 votes
I am most closely connected to John Jay at 24 degrees.
by Samantha Thomson G2G6 Pilot (156k points)
+12 votes
John Jay is closest at 15 degrees.  Fourth cousin 7 times removed.  The MRCA is Jacob Loockermans of Belgium whose son Loockermans-13 emigrated to New York
by Steve Ryan G2G6 Mach 3 (37.3k points)
+11 votes
17 degrees from John Jay

18 degrees from Oliver Holmes, 10th cousins 3x removed, MRCA Thomas Sheafe b.1535 Sheafe-3

20 degrees from Potter Stewart, 9th cousins 4x removed, MRCA Robert White b. 1560 White-255

21 degrees from William Douglas, 8th cousins 4x removed, MRCA John Whitmore b. 1589 Whitmore-20

24 degrees from Antonin Scalia

24 degrees from Louis Brandeis

27 degrees from Abraham Fortas

27 degrees from Thurgood Marshall

39 degrees from Ruth Ginsburg
by Mike Wells G2G6 Mach 7 (73.2k points)
+11 votes
An interesting list to look at relationships.

Potter and Holmes are 7th cousins 1x removed. Douglas 8th cousin 1x removed.
by T Stanton G2G6 Pilot (237k points)
+10 votes
John Jay and Oliver Holmes are closest at 17.

Am connected to Ruth Bader Ginsberg only through my husband at 35.
by Eloise Smith G2G6 Mach 1 (11.4k points)
+9 votes
19 degrees from John Jay

Only 16 degrees from our member of the  week John Rosser
by Rosalie Neve G2G6 Pilot (122k points)
+9 votes

17 degrees from oliver wendell holmes, Jr, 6th cousin, 5 times removed. The most recent common ancester is Edward Jackson (bef. 1605 - 1681)

by Jennifer Robins G2G6 Pilot (142k points)
+10 votes

17 degrees from John Jay, through our respective spouses.  Some 2nd cousin 7 times removed of his wife Sarah Livingston is a 2nd cousin once removed of my wife. Or something like that.wink

by Bernard Vatant G2G6 Mach 9 (93.0k points)
+10 votes
Hmmm...three of them are tied with 18 degrees of connection through three vastly different paths. My connection to Justice Potter Stewart is via my first husband. My connection to Justice William Douglas is via my current husband. My connection to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes doesn't involve either of my husbands. (He and I are also "related"--17th cousins 4x removed.)
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (442k points)
+12 votes
12 degrees from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.!
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (233k points)
+9 votes
It's a 3-way tie: I'm 15 degrees from John Jay, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Potter Stewart. And William O.Douglas is 16 degrees.

My most distant connection in the group is Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 37 degrees, but I am pleased that we are connected at all.

Three blood relationships (within 15 generations): 7C 1R from William Douglas (via New England ancestry), 6C 3R from Oliver Wendell Holmes (via New Netherland Huguenot ancestry), and 4C 7R from John Jay (via New Netherland ancestry).
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+10 votes
My "closest" connection is to John Jay, at 21 degrees. The furthest are, as expected, Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 42 degrees and Thurgood Marshall at 35. (Interestingly, Ruth's connection to the main tree goes through France, but it doesn't help "my" connection - after the trip to France, the connection goes back to America, then Russia, a short stop in South Africa, then back to America to eventually reach the Willsons who connect moi through a Swiss cousin).
by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (474k points)
edited by Isabelle Martin
Well, I never thought about looking at the locations of where my “finder connections” were born or married or died, but you have given me something new to look into.

I wonder if Aleš’ new mapping feature can handle the thought?

I’m thinking that each location would have to be tagged with a number so we can sequentially follow them. If a connection doesn’t have a location, then it would just display the number(s) sequentially in an appropriate area on the map.
I have sometimes found errors  by looking at the people on one of these connection paths. Most of the errors I have seen came to my attention due to improbable geographic associations, such as a child born in Texas to parents who lived their whole lives in England -- and a little research reveals that there was a mistake in the family connections.
Ellen, you raise a very excellent point. It would be very helpful if the birth locations for these connections could be displayed or toggled “on” to be displayed. A quick look at the birth locations would help to spot questionable connections.

I came across a connection that resulted in four duplicate profiles and initiated merges of these profiles with the kind help of Linda Peterson back in September. One of the surnames in the connection path didn’t make since to me and on further examination, revealed duplicates and misinformation.

No doubt in my mind that we should be evaluating these connections rather than just taking them as factual, but that will take time to examine each profile along the path. The good thing is that you only have to do it once for that path.
Here's an example found in a connection path: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sobieski-14

After examining the profile, I see no reliable source confirming the Sobieski link. The names are not even similar... But I would never touch it.
+8 votes
Mahlon Pitney, 3rd cousin, 3 times removed was an associate justice of the supreme court 1911-1922.
by Jim Kuttler G2G2 (2.7k points)
+10 votes
I'm a fifth great grandnephew of Chief Justice John Marshall.
by Samuel Reckford G2G2 (2.8k points)
+8 votes
16 degrees John Jay is the closest.

Via Swartwout / LaDue connection
by Janice Sutherland G2G6 Mach 5 (52.6k points)
+8 votes
7 from Samuel Blatchford (Blatchford-269) first cousins 4x removed

14 from Oliver Holmes

15 from John Jay

17 from Louis Brandeis
by Alicia Blatchford G2G Crew (460 points)
+8 votes

Of US Supreme Court Justices in this week's connection finder, I'm closest to William O. Douglas (17 degrees); of US Supreme Court Justices overall, closest to Gabriel Duvall (12 degrees, 2nd cousins 7x removed) followed by Roger B. Taney (14 degrees, 3rd cousins 7x removed).

by C Handy G2G6 Pilot (181k points)

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