No One Knows The Names Of Supreme Court Justices. Who Cares?

US Supreme Court
US Supreme Court

According to a recent poll, 2/3 of Americans could not name a single Supreme Court justice. This news was predictably met with calls for remedial civics lessons … The horror!

But we say: so what if your average citizen can’t identify Justice Kagan, or Justice Kennedy, or the Chief Justice.

Isn’t that why you hire lawyers? It’s our job —  not the average citizen’s — to know who staffs the relevant courts, from the high-and-mighty on the Supreme Court on down to our local municipal judges, and how to pitch our clients’ cases to them.

Besides, there isn’t a lot your average citizen can do about the Supremes and their decisions once they are on the Court — they enjoy life tenure, the Court’s public hearings are not telecast on C-SPAN or the internet, and unlike many of their state counterparts, they don’t campaign (at least in the traditional sense).

What the average citizen should care about, however, is who is doing the picking. Since it seems that, inevitably, all major policy questions become legal questions to be resolved by the Supreme Court, perhaps the most important factor in deciding who to vote for in the presidential race come November should be his or her potential picks for the federal bench.

If everyone paid attention at that stage, it shouldn’t matter that only law nerds could later name the players without a scorecard.