Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Name Any U.S. Supreme Court Justices

June 1st, 2010

Very disturbing news about the state of our civic education in America.  Nearly two-thirds of Americans cannot name any members of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new national survey by FindLaw.com. From the poll:

Clarence Thomas is the most well known justice but could be named by only 19 percent of Americans. Chief Justice John Roberts was named by 16 percent of people. Sonia Sotomayor, the newest justice, could be named by only 15 percent of Americans following a highly visible nomination and confirmation process last year.

According to the FindLaw.com survey, the percentages of Americans who can name any U.S. Supreme Court justices are:

  • Clarence Thomas – 19%
  • John Roberts – 16%
  • Sonia Sotomayor – 15%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg – 13%
  • Antonin Scalia – 10%
  • Samuel Alito – 8%
  • John Paul Stevens – 8%
  • Anthony Kennedy – 6%
  • Stephen Breyer – 3%

Only 1 percent of Americans could correctly name all nine current members of the Supreme Court.

In addition, many Americans think that retired justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter are still active members of the Supreme Court. O’Connor and Souter retired from the Court in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

Curiously, the most taciturn Justice is the most well known. And Justice Kennedy, the most important  Justice on the bench, is the least well known. Poor Justice Breyer.