Two-Thirds of Americans Can't Name Any U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Says New Survey

Aug 20, 2012, 05:20 ET from

EAGAN, Minn., Aug. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite all the recent controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care, immigration and other issues, nearly two-thirds of Americans can't name even a single member of the Supreme Court. That's according to a new national survey by (, the most popular legal information Web site. The survey found that only 34 percent of Americans can name any member of the nation's highest court.

Chief Justice John Roberts is the most well known of the justices, but could be named by only one in five Americans. Only one percent of Americans can correctly name all nine sitting Justices. 

According to the FindLaw survey, the percentage of Americans who can name any U.S. Supreme Court justice are:

  • John Roberts – 20%
  • Antonin Scalia – 16%
  • Clarence Thomas – 16%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg – 13%
  • Sonia Sotomayor – 13%
  • Anthony Kennedy – 10%
  • Samuel Alito – 5%
  • Elena Kagan – 4%
  • Stephen Breyer – 3%

"Recent rulings, particularly the decision upholding health care reform, have brought more attention to the U.S. Supreme Court than we've seen in past years," said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at "However, the High Court issues its rulings as a collective body. While justices can and do issue individual concurring and dissenting opinions, court sessions are conducted without TV cameras and deliberations take place behind closed doors. So while the decisions often have significant and lasting impact, the justices themselves are generally not very visible nor well known to the public as individuals."

Free Internet resources, such as the FindLaw Supreme Court News website
(, the FindLaw Supreme Court Blog ( and the U.S. Supreme Court website ( provide the current and historical Supreme Court calendars, dockets, decisions, opinions and briefs, and well as Supreme Court history and biographies of Justices.

The survey was conducted using a demographically balanced telephone survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.


Michelle Croteau