August 10, 2010

Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall?

8%

Nearly one-in-ten Americans incorrectly identify former Justice Thurgood Marshall as the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Asked to name the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, and given four possible names, nearly one-in-ten Americans (8%) choose Thurgood Marshall, despite the fact that Justice Marshall left the Supreme Court roughly 20 years ago, and passed away in 1993. In fact, very few Americans can name the current chief justice in a Pew Research news quiz; just 28% were able to correctly identify John Roberts. Another 6% thought the recently retired Justice John Paul Stevens was chief justice, while 4% named Sen. Harry Reid. A majority (53%) admitted that they did not know the answer. Americans have not always been so unknowledgeable about the Supreme Court. In November 1986, 43% correctly identified William Rehnquist as the chief justice, though 29% chose his predecessor, Warren Burger. And, in a January 2010 Pew Research news quiz, a majority (56%) correctly answered that more than one woman sat on the Supreme Court. Read More