The Supreme Court assembled for the first time in February 1790, in New York City, with Chief Justice John Jay presiding. The justices made no legal decisions that year; the first decision, West v. Barnes, was handed down in 1791. William West lost that one.
The longest-serving justice was William O. Douglas, who retired Nov. 12, 1975, after 36 years and six months. Proud Northwesterners know Douglas was Maine-born but Yakima-raised and a Whitman College alum. Although he moved to New York for law school, the big city never replaced the great outdoors in his heart.
The briefest tenure held by a chief justice was just about six months, achieved by John Rutledge in 1795. Upon John Jay’s resignation, Rutledge asked President Washington to appoint him; Washington did, but things went south while Rutledge served as temporary chief justice. He was a foe of Jay’s Treaty between America and England (tip: don’t suggest a president “die” rather than sign a treaty) and vicious rumors circulated about his mental health. The Senate refused to appoint him. A devastated Rutledge jumped off a wharf but was saved before he drowned. He died five years later.