Most Americans Can’t Name One Supreme Court Justice

Posted by | June 2, 2010 15:43 | Filed under: Top Stories

According to a survey conducted by, 2/3 of the 1000 people asked could not name a single current Supreme Court Justice, and only 1 percent could name all nine sitting justices.  Many of the respondents believe that Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter are stll on the court.

The largest proportion of respondents were able to name Clarence Thomas, at 19 percent; Chief Justice John Roberts was next with 16 percent. Bringing up the rear were Anthony Kennedy — the pivotal swing vote in many high court decisions — with 6 percent, and Stephen Breyer, who rang a bell with just 3 percent of respondents, despite sitting on the court for 16 years now.

More troubling than this, however, is the lack of knowledge about the basic functioning of our constitutional system, says findlaw’s Michael Dorf. The American Revolution Center has more troubling findings.

  • More Americans could identify Michael Jackson as the composer of “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” than could identify the Bill of Rights as a body of amendments to the Constitution.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents attributed the quote “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs” to either Thomas Paine, George Washington or President Obama. The quote is from Karl Marx, author of “The Communist Manifesto.”
  • More than a third did not know the century in which the American Revolution took place, and half of respondents believed that either the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation or the War of 1812 occurred before the American Revolution.
  • With a political movement now claiming the mantle of the Revolutionary-era Tea Party, more than half of respondents misidentified the outcome of the 18th-century agitation as a repeal of taxes, rather than as a key mobilization of popular resistance to British colonial rule.

Here’s the quiz if you’d like to take it yourself.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.

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