Constitutional FAQ Answer #112 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #112

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Q112. “If titles of nobility are prohibited by
the constitution, why then does the U.S. Supreme Court bestow the title of
‘honorable’ to the judges that at seated there? For that matter, why do we
refer to any Judge as ‘your honor’?”

A. This question is best answered by realizing exactly what a title of
nobility is. So, go check the entry under “Title of Nobility” in the glossary first.
Then, read the following, an edited version of a comment made by a frequenter
of the message boards here:

The Supreme Court has no authority to grant any title. The terms
“honorable” and “your honor” are not titles of nobility, and are not limited to
judges. Some mayors are also referred to this way, as are other officeholders.
(It does vary among localities.) These are mere honorifics used only while the
individual holds the office, and sometimes are not used (if at all) outside of
the individual’s formal functions of that office.

With a title of nobility, a person retains the title for his
lifetime, is referred to in all social situations by the title, and passes the
title on to heirs. The title and privilege extend to all situations and it
(along with the system of nobility and royalty) is an integral part of the

Last Modified: 17 Aug 2010

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