Yet another Survey Showing Ignorance of U.S. Supreme Court

April 18, 2012

by Jeremy Leaming

Do we need another chart or study or poll to remind us of how clueless a nation we can be at times? More than likely the answer is a resounding “no.” 

But nonetheless, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza points us to 2010 Pew poll, which shows that many do not know the basics about the nation’s top court. According to the survey, 54 percent do not know who the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice is, and eight percent believe that Thurgood Marshall, who died in 1993, is the Chief Justice. At the time, four percent thought Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid was the Chief Justice.

Cillizza suggests that a survey might not look so sad now, especially since the high court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC, and recent oral argument in the health care reform law case, have garnered widespread attention. Still Cillizza concludes we must remember, “Regular people are simply not engaged – they don’t know or care – about the intricacies of the government in a way that people who live inside the Beltway and spend their lives in politics are.”

But really, are we talking about the “intricacies of the government”? Yes, there are state Supreme Courts, but there’s only one U.S. Supreme Court with nine sitting justices, including the chief justice – that’s John Roberts Jr.