The majority of Americans cannot name a single member of the United States Supreme Court, a new C-SPAN/PSB poll found. This is despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has made pretty big headlines in recent years, from the landmark decision on gay marriage, to striking down parts of Arizona immigration law, to the Senate confirmation hearings currently being held for President Donald Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away in 2016 after having served 20 years. Scalia was appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. This follows an entire year of the Republican Senate members refusing to even hold a hearing for President Barack Obama‘s fairly conservative nominee, Merrick Garland.
When asked if they could name a single Supreme Court justice, just more than 4 in 10 survey participants (43 percent) replied that they could and were actually able to correctly named one. 57 percent could not correctly name a single justice.
Here is a summary of the full results:
Only three justices garnered double digits in terms of name identification: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (likely helped by the “Notorious RBG” thing), Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Clarence Thomas. Anthony M. Kennedy, who has been on the court since 1988, was named by 1 percent of likely voters. Stephen G. Breyer, who has been on the court since 1994, was named by a total of ZERO percent of likely voters.
In 2010, Pew conducted a survey asking people to name the chief justice. Here’s the result:
More than half of respondents didn’t have a clue. Only one in four people correctly named John G. Roberts Jr. as the Chief Justice. Other responses included Thurgood Marshall, who was never the Chief Justice and who died in 1993, and Harry M. Reid, who isn’t a judge at all but at the time was a sitting U.S. senator.
Despite the apparent ignorance of the average American to the people who sit on the highest court in the country, the C-SPAN poll also showed 90 percent of people agreed with the statements that “decisions made by the Supreme Court have an impact on my everyday life as a citizen.”