In August, we lamented the fact that nearly two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name a single member of the Supreme Court. At the time, we blamed it on the perceived stupidity of our nation’s population, calling for televised oral arguments in the hopes that they’d someday compete in the ratings with reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Unfortunately, given the high court’s resistance to change and the burgeoning evidence that we live in a country that’s overflowing with Honey Boo Boos, neither is going to happen any time soon.
But that’s really beside the point, because even if SCOTUS arguments were televised, they’d likely appear on C-SPAN, a channel that some people have probably never heard of before. Another thing that some people have never heard of before is the Supreme Court itself. That was a serious statement….
According to the latest Pew Research Center survey of 1,501 adults, conducted between March 13 and 17, approximately two percent of respondents claimed that they had “never heard of” the Supreme Court, which is the highest percentage that response category’s seen since 2007. Really? Really?!
Unlike the names of our nine Supreme Court justices, knowledge of the fact that the Supreme Court exists in the first place isn’t mere trivia question fodder. This is something that people learn in grade school, and considering that many of the Court’s high-profile cases have received hours upon hours of television coverage on basic cable, it’s shocking — nay, mortifying — that some can claim they’ve never heard of highest court in all the land. In sum: America, F**K YEAH!
Among the people who have heard of the Supreme Court, the justices’ favorability ratings are near an all-time low. Here’s more info (people who’ve never heard of SCOTUS should read this S-L-O-W-L-Y):
A national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17 among 1,501 adults, finds that 52% view the court favorably, while 31% view it unfavorably. Those ratings have changed only modestly since last July, shortly after the court’s ruling to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act.
The WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.) notes that in years prior, between 1987 and 2010 in particular, the Supreme Court’s favorability rating never fell below 57%, and oftentimes was higher than 70%.
Are people just pissed off that “nine unelected people from a narrow legal background” have been responsible for many of our major democratic decisions (e.g., health care reform, immigration enforcement, affirmative action, and gay marriage)? That’s apparently what Justice Kennedy thinks, so it’s probably safe to assume that laypeople feel the exact same way.
But hey, at least these people have an opinion about the Supreme Court and know that it’s not some sort of a fictitious entity like the Justice League. We’re probably better off this way.
Supreme Court’s Favorable Rating Still at Historic Low [Pew Research Center]
A Hardening Opinion of the Supreme Court [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]