When it comes to the Supreme Court, Americans are more interested in ideas than individuals. After the Supreme Court issued the healthcare opinion in June, a CBS/New York Times poll found that only 44 percent of Americans approved of the Court, while 36 percent disapproved.

That was a drop from the Pew Research Center’s May polling estimates, which placed Supreme Court approval at 58 percent.

While it seems that most Americans have an opinion about the Court, it doesn’t mean that they’re familiar with the people behind the bench. A recent FindLaw.com survey found that 66 percent of Americans can’t name a single Supreme Court justice, and only one percent can name all nine.

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

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

What does that mean in the greater context of legal information providers? Consumers are concerned with the issues the Court is resolving, instead of the people who decide those issues.

“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,” explains Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at FindLaw.com. “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.”

As interest in major Supreme Court decisions increases, both consumers and legal professionals turn to FindLaw.com for information about those cases.

A consumer can find out how a Supreme Court decision will affect her through FindLaw’s Learn About the Law section, Law & Daily Life blog, or on the FindLaw Answers board.

A legal professional can learn more about a pending Supreme Court case or a recent decision by visiting FindLaw’s Supreme Court News website or FindLaw’s Supreme Court Blog. Professionals who want curated Supreme Court information delivered by email can sign up for the Supreme Court Digest newsletter.

Whether a FindLaw.com visitor can name all nine justices, or none of them at all, FindLaw.com provides resources to help users learn about the Supreme Court.

– Michelle Croteau, Director of Marketing Communications
with Robyn Hagan Cain, FindLaw Audience Team

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