A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that only slightly more than one quarter of the country can correctly identify John Roberts as the Chief Justice of the United States:
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.
In many ways, Pew’s poll reflects the challenge facing progressives trying to educate the public about the harm Roberts caused since he became Chief in 2005. Roberts led a conservative bloc of five justices to grant corporate interests sweeping immunity from environmental law, from laws protecting women and older workers, from antitrust law, and — of course — from any meaningful restrictions on corporate money in American elections. Roberts’ dissenting votes go even further, declaring that rogue banks, drug companies and the tobacco industry should be immune from much of state law. But it’s hard to make the message about Roberts’ extremism penetrate the public mind if they don’t even know who he is.