Washington's obsession with the court is one of the places where we are least in touch with the average American who, according to a new C-SPAN poll, barely even knows the names of anyone on the court.
Asked whether they could name a single — just ONE — Supreme Court justice, just more than 4 in 10 people (43 percent) said they could (and then actually named one.) A quick bit of math shows that 57 percent of our fellow Americans can't name ONE court justice. Not one. I mean. Wow.
Here's the full result:
Only three justices clocked in double digits in terms of name identification: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (almost certainly driven by the whole “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 0 percent of likely voters. Zero!
These new C-SPAN numbers are eye-opening, but they are far from an isolated incident when it comes to demonstrating how little interest regular people have in the court. In 2010, Pew asked people to name the chief justice. Here's the result:
More than half of respondents had no idea. One in 4 people correctly named John G. Roberts Jr. as the chief justice. Others named 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.
It's clear that the average person has little knowledge of the people who sit on the highest court in the country. What's remarkable — at least to me — is that in the C-SPAN poll 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.”
So a huge majority of people believe what the court decides makes a real difference in their lives, but a majority also can't name a single court justice.
Welcome to America 2017.