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Former jobs of each sitting Supreme Court justice



(STACKER) — Since its institution in 1789 by the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court has seen 17 chief justices, and 116 justices in complete. Many landmark circumstances have handed by means of the Supreme Court of the U.S., having set precedents and altered the material of society. 

Stacker compiled an account of the tutorial {and professional} historical past of every present Supreme Court justice, together with Ketanji Brown Jackson, the latest member. Each justice’s background is split into three sections: schooling, early profession life, {and professional} life within the years main as much as their tenures on the Supreme Court.

The SCOTUS has been predominantly white and male since its founding. In truth, all however eight of the courtroom’s 116 justices have been white males.

Sandra Day O’Connor was the primary lady to be confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1981; Thurgood Marshall was the primary individual of shade to be appointed to the courtroom in 1967; and Jackson grew to become the primary Black lady confirmed to the very best courtroom within the nation on April 7, 2022.

The present Supreme Court justices took completely different paths to realize their present esteemed positions. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in 2020, was appointed in 1993 and confronted many challenges on her path to changing into a SCOTUS justice. She encountered sexism in her try and get clerkships as a feminine legislation graduate within the Fifties and obtained decrease pay than her male colleagues when she taught at Rutgers Law School within the Sixties.

When Clarence Thomas was making use of for jobs as a brand new legislation graduate, he discovered that some legislation companies didn’t take his Yale Juris doctorate diploma severely as a result of the college had been attempting to satisfy quotas of Black college students on the time. Sonia Sotomayor spoke out in assist of Hispanic rights as a scholar and as a choose, and skilled roadblocks when she was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals attributable to Republican beliefs that President Bill Clinton was attempting to facilitate her nomination as the primary Hispanic individual within the Supreme Court. She was confirmed to the SCOTUS in 2009. 

Clarence Thomas: Education

Clarence Thomas earned a B.A. in English from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, the place he helped create the Black Student Union. He obtained a J.D. from Yale in 1974, although legislation companies didn’t take his diploma severely when he was making use of for jobs. He cited that legislation companies assumed that he obtained into this system due to the legislation faculty’s improve in its quota of Black college students, and thus put much less weight on LSAT scores and grades for these college students.

Clarence Thomas: Early profession life

After his admittance to the Missouri Bar in 1974, Thomas labored as assistant legal professional common of Missouri beneath state Attorney General John Danforth and was the one African American on Danforth’s workers. After altering roles when Danforth was elected to the Senate in 1976, Thomas returned to work for him within the late ‘70s as a legislative assistant specializing in vitality points for the Senate Commerce Committee. Danforth would play an necessary function in endorsing Thomas as a Supreme Court justice.

In the early Nineteen Eighties, Thomas took on the function of assistant secretary of schooling for the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Education, after which as chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1982 to 1990. In the latter function, Thomas sought circumstances of particular person discrimination relatively than adhere to the fee’s recurring methodology of submitting class-action discrimination lawsuits. He opined that Black leaders had been all speak and no motion by way of the Reagan administration’s shortcomings and that they need to have collaborated with the federal authorities to enhance points equivalent to illiteracy and teenage being pregnant.

Clarence Thomas: Before the Supreme Court

President George H. W. Bush nominated Thomas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1989, regardless of Thomas having mentioned he didn’t wish to be a choose. Nevertheless, different African Americans working in authorities backed him, together with Secretary of Transportation William Coleman. In 1991, shortly after Thurgood Marshall declared that he’d be retiring, President Bush nominated Thomas to exchange him on the Supreme Court.

Some civil rights and feminist organizations had been in opposition to Thomas’ appointment due partially to his condemnation of affirmative motion, in addition to apprehensions that he may need been in opposition to Roe v. Wade. After Thomas’ affirmation hearings ended, however earlier than the Senate formally authorised his nomination, Anita Hill accused Thomas of verbal sexual harassment in a leaked FBI interview. In reopened hearings, Thomas denied the allegations and maintained his proper to privateness. The Judiciary Committee voted to ship Thomas’ nomination to the Senate, and after additional investigation with no substantial proof of sexual harassment, the Senate confirmed Thomas to the Supreme Court in October 1991.

Stephen Breyer: Education

Before Stephen Breyer graduated from Harvard Law School with an LL.B. (a bachelor of legal guidelines diploma) in 1964, he earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy from Stanford in ‘59 and studied philosophy, politics, and economics as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford’s Magdalen College. While at Harvard, Breyer labored as an editor for the Harvard Law Review and graduated with honors.

Stephen Breyer: Early profession life

In 1964, Breyer clerked for Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg and later labored within the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice as a particular assistant to the assistant legal professional common. In 1967 he started educating at his alma mater, Harvard Law School, and later labored as an assistant prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973.

He served as particular counsel, and later as chief counsel, to the Administrative Practices Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He collaborated with the committee’s chairman Edward M. Kennedy to execute the Airline Deregulation Act.

Stephen Breyer: Before the Supreme Court

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Breyer to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the place he later served as chief choose from 1990 to 1994. As a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1985 to 1989, Breyer performed an instrumental half in reshaping felony sentencing procedures on the federal stage, in addition to creating the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Following the retirement of Harry Blackmun, President Bill Clinton nominated Breyer to the place of affiliate justice of the Supreme Court in 1994. He was confirmed the identical 12 months. As a Supreme Court choose, Breyer maintains a practical strategy to legislation and appears to “purpose and consequences” in deciphering legal guidelines. He has uniformly voted to assist abortion rights and has largely deferred to Congress, rarely voting to reverse congressional laws.

John Roberts: Education

Current Chief Justice John Roberts earned a bachelor’s diploma from Harvard University in 1976 and stayed on to acquire his J.D. in ‘79. In his undergraduate diploma, he wrote a thesis paper on early Twentieth-century British liberalism. In legislation faculty, he labored as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review and as a legislation clerk.

John Roberts: Early profession life

As a brand new legislation graduate, Roberts clerked for appellate Judge Henry Friendly and William Rehnquist, whom he succeeded on the Supreme Court. In the Nineteen Eighties, Roberts served as particular assistant to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith, after which as affiliate counsel to President Ronald Reagan. While working for the legislation agency Hogan & Hartson within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, Roberts carried out professional bono work for LGBTQ+ rights activists and prepped arguments for the 1996 case Romer v. Evans, which concerned sexual orientation as associated to state legislation.

In 1989, Roberts took on the function of principal deputy solicitor common beneath President George H. W. Bush. After three years as solicitor common, he returned to working towards legislation privately and taught legislation at Georgetown University. He was a part of the staff of attorneys that suggested Gov. Jeb Bush in the course of the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida.

John Roberts: Before the Supreme Court

In 2001, Roberts was nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) however was not confirmed till 2003 attributable to disagreements between the Bush administration and the bulk Democratic Senate. As a Supreme Court choose, Roberts dominated over a number of vital circumstances, together with Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which was a query of the authorized validity of navy tribunals.

In 2005, President George W. Bush initially nominated Roberts to the Supreme Court to fill the sneakers of Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who had retired. However, upon the demise of William Rehnquist later that 12 months, Bush renominated Roberts to the function of chief justice. Regarding his judicial philosophy, Roberts likened judges to baseball umpires, saying “it’s my job to call the balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”

Samuel A. Alito Jr.: Education

Samuel Alito graduated from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1972. He then obtained his legislation diploma from Yale in 1975, the place he was editor of the Yale Law Journal. While at Princeton, Alito chaired a 1971 scholar convention referred to as “The Boundaries of Privacy in American Society,” which, amongst different issues, referred to as for a statute and a courtroom to manipulate nationwide safety surveillance, elimination of discrimination in opposition to homosexual individuals in hiring processes, and the decriminalization of sodomy. The extent to which the convention agenda mirrors Alito’s private convictions is unknown.

Samuel A. Alito Jr.: Early profession life

After graduating from legislation faculty, Alito clerked beneath Judge Leonard Garth within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. From the early to mid-Nineteen Eighties, he labored as Deputy Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General Rex E. Lee, beneath whom he argued 12 circumstances for the federal authorities within the Supreme Court. From 1987 to 1990, Alito served because the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, appointed by Ronald Reagan. In this function, he efficiently prosecuted the 1988 case of an FBI agent who was shot within the area and prosecuted a sympathizer of the Japanese Red Army who was discovered with selfmade bombs in his automotive at a New Jersey Turnpike service heart.

Samuel A. Alito Jr.: Before the Supreme Court

From 1990 till his nomination to the Supreme Court, Alito labored as a choose within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Although broadly conservative in his judicial strategy, he dealt with rulings on every case otherwise.

As the son of an Italian immigrant, Alito was understanding of the problems of individuals he discovered just like himself, exemplified within the case of Fatin v. INS, by which an Iranian lady was looking for asylum. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Alito to exchange Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, and he was confirmed the next 12 months. Alito nonetheless guidelines based mostly on the case at hand, although he incessantly veers on the aspect of conservatism.

Sonia Sotomayor: Education

The first Hispanic and third lady to serve on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor earned an undergraduate diploma from Princeton, the place she co-chaired the Puerto Rican activist group Acción Puertorriqueña. As a part of this group, she accused the Princeton administration of bias in opposition to Puerto Ricans of their hiring course of. In the identical vein of Puerto Rican rights, she additionally wrote a senior thesis on Puerto Rican journalist Luis Muñoz Marín. In pursuing her J.D. from Yale, she was editor of the Yale Law Review and revealed a notable article on how statehood would influence Puerto Rico’s mineral rights.

Sonia Sotomayor: Early profession life

Freshly out of legislation faculty in 1979, Sotomayor landed a place as an assistant district legal professional beneath New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. In the wake of rampant New York crime charges, she handled substantial caseloads together with shoplifting, police brutality, and homicide. In phrases of great felonies, Sotomayor mentioned, “No matter how liberal I am, I am still outraged by crimes of violence,”, particularly for violent crime inside the Hispanic group.

In her function as a choose on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, she took anti-government stances in quite a few circumstances and was recognized for administering heavy sentences in felony circumstances. In the notable case Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, Inc., Sotomayor’s preliminary injunction in opposition to Major League Baseball barred it from executing a brand new collective bargaining settlement, thus placing a cease to the months-long 1994 baseball strike.

Sonia Sotomayor: Before the Supreme Court

In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. However, Senate Republicans delayed her affirmation course of as a result of they believed that Clinton had an ulterior motive of positioning her for a Supreme Court nomination as the primary Hispanic choose. Sotomayor was confirmed to the Court of Appeals in 1998.

As a choose, she was described as a centrist by the ABA Journal. As a member of the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness within the Courts, Sotomayor offered the annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture on the University of California, Berkeley in 2001, by which she talked partially in regards to the historical past of girls and minorities who rose to grow to be federal judges.

In the 2002 abortion case Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, Sotomayor defended the Bush administration’s enactment of the Mexico City Policy, detailing that the U.S. would chorus from subsidizing nongovernmental organizations that carry out or advocate for abortions in different international locations. President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009, and he or she was confirmed the identical 12 months.

Elena Kagan: Education

Elena Kagan graduated from Princeton in 1981, obtained an M.Phil. from Oxford’s Worcester College as a Daniel M. Sachs Graduating Fellow in ‘83, and earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School in ‘86, graduating with honors. At Princeton, Kagan was the editorial chair of The Daily Princetonian, and in collaboration with a number of different college students, wrote a Declaration of the Campaign for a Democratic University, which detailed a have to retool college governance on a core stage.

At Worcester College, Kagan wrote a thesis on “The Development and Erosion of the American Exclusionary Rule: A Study in Judicial Method.” At Harvard, she labored as supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She was described as being good with individuals and gained the respect of everybody regardless of divisive political beliefs on campus.

Elena Kagan: Early profession life

In 1987 Kagan clerked for Judge Abner J. Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and a 12 months later clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court. As a lawyer for the D.C. agency Williams & Connolly, Kagan labored on 5 lawsuits rooted in problems with the First Amendment and media legislation. In the early Nineteen Nineties, she took a job as an assistant professor on the University of Chicago Law School, the place she revealed an influential legislation assessment article by which she argued that the SCOTUS ought to examine governmental motives when coping with circumstances regarding the First Amendment. Two years after she obtained her assistant professorship, Joe Biden appointed her as particular counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, the place she performed a component within the affirmation hearings of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Elena Kagan: Before the Supreme Court

Prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court, Kagan labored as affiliate White House Counsel for President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1996, as deputy assistant to the president for home coverage, and as deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. In the latter function, Kagan co-wrote a memo asking that Clinton again a ban on late-term abortions.

After returning to academia for a decade, Kagan was nominated to the place of solicitor common by Barack Obama, and have become the primary lady within the function. Though thought-about to be a part of the liberal wing of the SCOTUS, Kagan veers on the reasonable aspect. Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court in 2010, and he or she was confirmed the identical 12 months.

Neil Gorsuch: Education

Neil Gorsuch obtained his B.A. in political science from Columbia in 1988, adopted by a J.D. from Harvard in 1991, and at last, a Ph.D. in legislation from Oxford in 2004. While at Columbia, he wrote for the Columbia Daily Spectator and co-founded another scholar newspaper referred to as The Fed, in addition to the journal The Morningside Review. At Harvard, Gorsuch labored as an editor for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and was described as conservative amidst a scholar inhabitants of “ardent liberals,” based on the Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson.

Neil Gorsuch: Early profession life

After finishing a judicial clerkship for SCOTUS Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, Gorsuch practiced industrial legislation at Kellogg Huber, the place he labored on securities fraud, antitrust, and contracts circumstances. In the case of Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v Broudo, Gorsuch communicated that he believed that securities fraud litigation is burdensome to the economic system.

He additionally labored as principal deputy to Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum on the U.S. Department of Justice, the place he labored on civil litigation circumstances, in addition to terror litigation associated to President Bush’s War on Terror. Generally, Gorsuch is a constitutional originalist, which is to say that he believes that the structure ought to be deciphered because it was initially written.

Neil Gorsuch: Before the Supreme Court

Before his affirmation as a Supreme Court Justice, Gorsuch spent 11 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In this function, within the case of Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, Gorsuch wrote a concurrence—or an try and show each responsible motion and responsible thoughts—when the en banc circuit decided that the Affordable Care Act legislation requiring employers to supply their staff with medical insurance that partially covers contraception violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Politically, Gorsuch helps a broad interpretation of freedom of faith. David Savage of the Los Angeles Times described him as “a libertarian who is quick to oppose unchecked government power.” President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in February 2017, and whereas the Senate Judiciary Committee authorised the nomination, Democrats filibustered till Republicans broke it with a easy majority vote and confirmed Gorsuch to the SCOTUS.

Brett Kavanaugh: Education

Brett Kavanaugh obtained each his B.A. and J.D. from Yale, the latter in 1990. During his time at Yale Law School, Kavanaugh was an editor for the Yale Law Journal. He reportedly mentioned throughout his legislation faculty affirmation listening to testimony, “I got into Yale Law School. That’s the number-one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.”

Brett Kavanaugh: Early profession life

In his early years in legislation, Kavanaugh labored as a clerk for judges within the U.S. Court of Appeals within the Third and Ninth Circuits. In the early Nineteen Nineties, he accomplished a year-long fellowship with U.S. solicitor common on the time, Ken Starr, with whom he returned to work years later as an affiliate counselor within the Office of the Independent Counsel. In this function, Kavanaugh helmed the writing of the 1998 Starr Report to Congress, which detailed the scandal involving Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

In late 2000, Kavanaugh grew to become a part of George W. Bush’s authorized staff that strove to cease the recount of Florida ballots within the controversial 2000 presidential election between Bush and Al Gore. From 2003 to 06, he labored as an assistant to President George W. Bush and White House Staff Secretary.

Brett Kavanaugh: Before the Supreme Court

In 2003, President Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, however his affirmation was delayed for 3 years as a result of Senatorial Democrats believed him to be too biased. Kavanaugh asserted his conservative views on a number of necessary points, together with abortion and employment discrimination, all through his 12 years as a choose on the appeals courtroom.

Following President Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in July 2018, Christine Blasey Ford publicly acknowledged that Kavanaugh had sexually molested her after they had been in highschool. During Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in September 2018, Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations. After an FBI investigation yielded no substantial proof to validate Ford’s declare, the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh in a 50-48 vote on Oct. 6, 2018.

Amy Coney Barrett: Education

Amy Coney Barrett attended Rhodes College, a liberal arts faculty in Memphis, Tennessee, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. She graduated in 1994 with a bachelor of arts in English; she additionally received the awards for “Most Outstanding English Major” and “Most Outstanding Senior Thesis.” Barrett went on to attend Notre Dame Law School. During her time there, she served as an govt editor of the Notre Dame Law Review. When she graduated in 1997, she was awarded the Hoynes Prize, which is given to the coed with the “best record in scholarship, deportment, and achievement.”

Amy Coney Barrett: Early profession life

After graduating from Notre Dame, Barrett clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1997 to 1998, after which for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia the next 12 months. When that clerkship resulted in 1999, Barrett went into non-public follow, becoming a member of the D.C. legislation agency Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin. In 2001, she joined George Washington University Law School as an adjunct professor, after which, in 2002, she returned to her alma mater Notre Dame the place she was finally named a Professor of Law in 2010.

Amy Coney Barrett: Before the Supreme Court

In 2017, President Trump nominated Barrett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. During the hearings on her nomination, Barrett was questioned a few 1998 legislation assessment article that she co-wrote arguing that Catholic judges ought to recuse themselves from demise penalty circumstances in some cases attributable to their ethical opposition to capital punishment. Democratic senators’ skepticism surrounding Barrett’s capacity to separate her religion from authorized selections got here beneath hearth from spiritual conservatives, whereas LGBTQ+ civil rights group Lambda Legal cosigned a letter opposing Barrett’s nomination, additionally involved she wouldn’t be capable of separate her faith from rulings on LGBTQ+ points. Ultimately, Barrett was confirmed by the Senate.

While on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett dissented after the bulk upheld the district courtroom’s preliminary injunction in opposition to the “public charge” rule, an effort by the Trump administration to lift the usual for acquiring inexperienced playing cards and immigrant visas. She additionally dissented when the courtroom upheld the federal legislation stopping felons from proudly owning firearms.

In September 2020, Trump nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court. While largely supported by Republicans, Democrats opposed Barrett’s nomination on the grounds that they’d be filling a seat on the bench whereas an election was underway in lots of U.S. states. The nomination was particularly contested as a result of, in 2016, the Senate Republican majority refused to contemplate President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland greater than 10 months earlier than the tip of Obama’s presidency. By comparability, when Trump nominated Barrett, solely 4 months remained in his time period. The affirmation hearings went on, nevertheless, and Barrett was confirmed as an affiliate justice of the SCOTUS on Oct. 27, 2020.

Ketanji Brown Jackson: Education

As a highschool senior in Miami, Ketanji Brown Jackson’s steering counselor reportedly instructed her to set her sights a bit decrease when she expressed curiosity in making use of to Harvard University. She rejected that recommendation and was accepted into Harvard. There, Jackson studied authorities and the adorned high-school orator additionally pursued the humanities. She was a member of the coed improv group On Thin Ice and took drama courses, as soon as working with fellow scholar Matt Damon as his scene accomplice. In 1992, Jackson graduated from Harvard with a bachelor of arts diploma.

After a year-long stint as a reporter and researcher at Time, Jackson returned to Cambridge to attend Harvard Law School. She served as a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated along with her J.D. in 1996.

Ketanji Brown Jackson: Early profession life

Fresh out of Harvard Law School, Jackson held three clerkships: one for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, one other for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, after which—after a 12 months in non-public follow (on the identical non-public legislation agency the place Barrett labored)—for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she is filling.

Jackson then returned to personal follow from 2000 to 2003, working at Goodwin Procter in Boston and at what’s now often called Feinberg Rozen in New York. In the 2 years that adopted, she grew to become an assistant particular counsel to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, after which, from 2005 to 2007, a federal public defender in Washington D.C., dealing with circumstances earlier than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. From 2007 to 2010, Jackson labored as an appellate specialist at Morrison & Foerster in Washington D.C.

Ketanji Brown Jackson: Before the Supreme Court

Jackson left Morrison & Foerster in 2010 to grow to be vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, nominated by Obama in 2009. During her time within the place, which she held till 2014, she lowered sentences for drug-related offenses. In 2012, Obama nominated Jackson to function a choose for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; she was confirmed in 2013. In one in every of her most high-profile circumstances, Jackson dominated in opposition to the Trump administration’s problem to subpoena former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify within the impeachment inquiry in opposition to the president. One portion of Jackson’s opinion made headlines: “Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings,” she wrote. “This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

Jackson moved one step nearer to the SCOTUS in 2021 when President Joe Biden nominated her to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Less than a 12 months later, Biden introduced that Jackson was his nominee for affiliate justice of the Supreme Court. After contentious hearings, Jackson was confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2022. She is the primary Black lady to serve on the Supreme Court in addition to the excessive courtroom’s first former public defender.



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