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The Most Important Number in Politics Today


That's the percentage of people who couldn't name a single Supreme Court justice in arecent C-SPAN poll conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

Of the 46 percent who could name a justice, Clarence Thomas was the most well known (14 percent) while Chief Justice John Roberts was named by 11 percent. Ruth Bader Ginsburg clocked in at seven percent while Antonin Scalia took six percent.

In that same poll, just 43 percent of the sample could name Sonia Sotomayor as President Barack Obama's nominee to the Court.

Why do these numbers matter? Because they provide some context amid the sea of coverage of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings.

Watch cable news and you might quickly become convinced that there is nothing people care about other than the hearings. But, these poll results show that the average American has only a passing interest -- to be kind -- in the people on the Court or even of Sotomayor herself.

That general public indifference/disinterest doesn't mean, however, that the confirmation proceedings aren't important. A lifetime appointment is no small thing and the arguments put forward by both sides in the Sotomayor confirmation are certain to be the foundation for future Court fights, which are nearly certain to be more contentious than this one.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 13, 2009; 12:11 PM ET
Categories:  Most Important Number  
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Aww... nuts. I knew I'd blow at least one of them. I know there is one long time justice who's considered the liberal anchor of the court. I was thinking of Whizzer White, though I was totally wrong.

[I know. A new thing for the Fixistas. Actually admitting that you screwed up. I promise. It won't happen again (the admission, not the screwing up.)]


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 13, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse


Is that Byron "Whizzer" White you're referring to? He was certainly not left of Ginsburg -- I'm not sure that Stevens is left of Ginsburg.

Posted by: mnteng | July 13, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how the mind works. Thought I'd be easily be able to name the Nine...started by dividing into 5-4 decisions...

Immediately got the Swing vote: Kennedy. Four liberals: the New Hampshire Guy, Souter (now gone); the Woman, Ginsberg; the 89 Year Old Guy with Three Names I Suddenly Can't Remember; and the...ummm...Other One. OK, wait a minute and go to the conservatives.

The Two New Guys, Roberts and Alito; the Showy Italian, Scalia; the Lone Dissenter, Thomas.

OK, back to the Liberals, oh yes, John Paul Stevens; and the...other Old White Guy.

OK, wait a minute and go to first names.

John Paul Stevens
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
David Souter (soon Sonya Sotomayor)
(...Other Old White Guy)
Arthur Kennedy
John Roberts
Samuel Alito
Clarence Thomas

Ummm...Oh yeah, Ice Cream Man--Breyer! First name? Ummm, Steven? (or is that just thinking of John Paul Stevens?).

Oh well, I give up. But can you name the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Religion, Speech, and Press of course. Then the other two most people forget, Freedom of Assembly and the Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances.

At least I can still get those!

Posted by: malis | July 13, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Awww... I was hoping for a derisive nickname of my own. I kinda like the Gay Blade, but that was already taken by Zorro's swishy cousin.

Oh yeah, let's see how I do. From left to right:


I'm not including Souter as he's resigned his seat.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 13, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Last letter D, I'd guess.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"Who'd want to buy [the collection]?"

I can spell that name in 5 letters.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 13, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, for my ignorance or some difficulties with remembering names as I get older, but I can only think of Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, not sure about spelling of his name, Ginsberg, Kennedy, Souter or his successor Sotomayor.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | July 13, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

If zouk would sell his porn collection, he could probably make up the difference.


Who'd want to buy a pile of crusty pics of Sarah Palin?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 13, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

If zouk would sell his porn collection, he could probably make up the difference.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

beting on the stupidity, ignorance and invective of a Lib is about as close to a sure thing as you can get.

not quite as assured as Libs raising taxes, spenging into oblivion and surrendering to anyone who will pay their debts, but almost.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey, nodebris: zouk gets $541 / month for his SSI payment, just enough to keep him in pepsi and potato chips and the occasional can of Dinty Moore. Asking him to pay his gambling debt of a grand? You may as well ask for a million. Unless his mom leaves her purse laying around unguarded that SSI check is all there will ever be.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 13, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey, zouk: what was the budget deficit under Bush?

No, not the official one, the real one, counting the "off the book" expenditures on the Vanity Wars?

Obama will have a LOT of catching up to do before he can out-deficit Bush, and Obama's deficits actually have a justification. We didn't need to send troops to the Middle East, you know.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 13, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone else as amused as I at the degeneracy and stupidity of the Loony Libs? We seem to have a pack of them now including:

simple simon

when challenged to defend a single Lib policy they collectively insult, obfuscate, cut and paste and ignore. If this represents the brain trust of the left, I can only suggest you go back to Streisand, Moore and Franken.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I am including your payment in the stimulas bill. since Libs are running things and it is targeted and timely, you should get it before 2020.

Just post your bank account number and I will arrange a wire transfer.

Of course, first, you should show that you earned it by fulfilling the reqs.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Conservative makes promise he has no intention of fulfilling.


If you presume that everything you hear from a Republican is a lie you will very rarely have reason to regret.

History, policy, word of honor, these guys lie reflexively, always trying to shade the truth to their liking. As of course they need to since truth is never on their side.

Zouk welch on a bet? Now there's a shocker. I doubt he'll ever have a thousand bucks in one place in his life.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 13, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

How about this number: $1,000.

That's the amount zouk promised to pay, but is welshing on.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

How about this number - attached to Lib policy.

WASHINGTON – Nine months into the fiscal year, the federal deficit has topped $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This number:

Today, on Rasmussen, Obama revisits his previous Approval Index low of -8, after a three-day (dead cat?) "bounce" to -7. Note that one of the numbers comprising the index, the Strongly Approve number, hits a new low, 28%.On the nationalized health care front, for the first time in Rasmussen's polling, public opinion turns against the Obama-Democratic health care plan, 49%-46%.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

News flash:

Conservative makes promise he has no intention of fulfilling.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

News flash:

Loony Libs demand transfer of wealth. state that simply wanting it is enough. Refuse to justify position or morality. when awarded the value of their contribution, they claim zero is insufficient.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Looks like zouk's word is worth exactly what you'd expect. Even zouk doesn't respect zouk.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

rightwing rhetoric getting so deranged and violent, even rightwing radio and TV hosts are getting scared of it. They are going to get someone, or a bunch of people killed, and they know it:

"Earlier today, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan suggested that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband should murder his daughter’s ex-fiance, Levi Johnston, for saying Palin’s decision to resign came down to “money.” While appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Buchanan said:

BUCHANAN: “Well, first, with regard to Levi, I think First Dude up there in Alaska, Todd Palin, ought to take Levi down to the creek and hold his head underwater until the thrashing stops.“

Time’s Mark Halperin then quipped: “That’s a reality show, right there.” The macabre humor was dark enough that MSNBC felt the need to follow-up with a disclaimer from Mika Brzezinski: “Just to clarify Pat’s incredible statement about Levi: Morning Joe does not advocate any violence against Levi Johnston, nor anyone else related to the Palin story.”

Posted by: drindl | July 13, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The GOP does not like Sotomayor because she is not like Justice Thomas, an "Uncle Tom" if there ever was one.

The GOP seems to think it's acceptable to allow ideology to drive the thinking of judges as long as it's their brand of right-wing ideology.

However, the GOP resents that a member of a minority group would be intelligent, capable, rational, reasonable, empathetic, and able to think for themselves without guidance from the all-knowing, all-wise (and almost all-white) GOP.

Sorry, GOP -- your days are numbered.

GOP = greatly out-dated politicians

Posted by: abby0802 | July 13, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"Now observe all the moonbats who want a handout despite not doing any work or living up to expectations."

Like Firefighter Ricci, who sued the state 5 times for discrimination, and finally got a job over hundreds of other who were equally qualified, becuase he was dsylexic -- and a whiner.

Seems like dsylexia --not being able to read well, might be a problem for firefighters, fighting fires at a chemical factory, say. Might be a danger to the public. But to the lazy, entitled whiners of the world, when all else fails, call your lawyers!

Posted by: drindl | July 13, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

And here, it is pointed out how radically rightwing activist the current court is, especially Justice Roberts:

"Senator Whitehouse, one of the Committee's most experienced advocates, launches a full-scale attack on Chief Justice Roberts' umpire analogy and on the Court's conservative majority. He first points out that if judging were as mechanical as calling balls and strikes, one Justice would be sufficient. Whitehouse's analogy is to defining the strike zone, which requires the exercise of judgment. He says that the Court today is "ignoring precedent," overturning statutes, and limiting constitutional protections, and quotes Jeffrey Toobin's recent article in the New Yorker, which stated that the Chief Justice had consistently voted in favor of the prosecution over defendants in criminal cases, for the state over death row inmates in death penalty cases, for the executive branch over the legislature, and for the corporation over the individual plaintiff. He says that the Chief Justice has not kept the "promise of modesty" made when he was nominated by President Bush."

Posted by: drindl | July 13, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Now observe all the moonbats who want a handout despite not doing any work or living up to expectations.

this is like demanding that you get paid for yardwork for simply considering the notion of weeds.

I am still waiting for a single instance of drivl intelligence, human scale.

Watch all the Libs searching for a needle in a haystack. I will admit you will have to dig through a lot of garbage and smelly detritus.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

i tink that would be more like 18, koolkat.

Here's the R rationale for everything they do -- it's ok if they do, but not if others do. Republican 'activism' is GOOD you see, it's just Democratic activism that's bad. These people couldn't possibly be more hypocritical.

"Senator Cornyn shows the malleability of the "activist" label. He points out that activism can be good if it is in enforcing laws enacted by Congress but not in "micromanaging the death penalty" or in recognizing constitutional protections for private sexual activity. On the other hand, Senator Cornyn argues that the Court should become more "active" in promoting "neglected" constitutional rights, in particular those that protect private parties -- such as the takings clause and the commerce clause -- as well as the second amendment's right to bear arms."

Posted by: drindl | July 13, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

when you idiots comply, I will consider it. finding an intelligent thing that drivl said is a tall order.

did you hear that Obimbo's books are not allowed in Federal prison. they are deemed to risky for the prisoners to read. too subversive?

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"zouk didn't say he'd pay the first one, he said he'd pay anyone."

My mistake, you are correct. By all appearances, the offer remains open.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 13, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1, zouk didn't say he'd pay the first one, he said he'd pay anyone. So he owes both of us, and anyone else who takes him up on his incredibly improvident offer.

I agree; when the time comes to put up or shut up, you can bet zouk will do neither. That's just the kind of straight-up, righteous conservative guy he is.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Actually, these numbers don't matter.

This poll was conducted online, and, as there is no claim of representativeness or random recruitment, likely is completely useless in gauging what actual Americans think. Good to see they provide a margin of error to confuse readers into thinking the results have some probability-based relationship to actual population results.

On top of that, the where's disclosure that Penn, Schoen, and Berland is a Democratic polling firm (Penn was HRC's campaign pollster only last year), even if they're hired by C-Span.

Don't be surprised about C-Span's tolerance of crappy numbers, for a long time they partnered with the infamous John Zogby.

On a positive note- nice Friday Lines widget.

Posted by: sfcpoll | July 13, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

nodebris, the record will show that I beat you to the punch, so zouk owes me, not you. I'll be shocked if he pays up.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 13, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

54? That would be the average IQ of rightwingnuts who posts on WaPo boards, right?

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 13, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"If during the next few weeks the Republicans appear to be playing politics with race rather than raising legitimate issues about Sotomayor's judicial approach it could reinforce the deep impression that the Republican Party's anachronistic and intolerant approach to race and diversity is making them less capable of leading a very different and more racially diverse America of the early 21st century," he wrote."

And it will. This is who WILL be watching, CC. The Hispanics in this country, who are watching republicans attack Sotomeyor constantly on race and ethnicity. They are trying to drum up cash from their racist base--trying to divide whites from everyone else -- build up the hatred for other ethnic groups-- make their loser base feel even more aggrieved.

This will come back to haunt them and the party will continue to shrink.

Posted by: drindl | July 13, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

zouk, you owe me $1k from your bet on the previous thread. How are you going to pay me?

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse




The "aware" call it "the program."

"The program" is a nationwide, federally-overseen multi-agency coordinated action...


This is an entrenched, GPS-activated high-tech American Gestapo fronted by federally-funded volunteer community police and town watch organizations. It makes a mockery of the rule of law at the grassroots -- literally holding Americans hostage in their own homes -- terrorizing, vandalizing, destroying lives, reputations and livelihoods.

This "torture matrix" also has WEAPONIZED the electromagnetic spectrum and the silent TORTURE of Americans via so-called "directed energy" microwave and laser radiation weapons. The victims have been deemed as "undesirables," "dissidents," or "social deviates" -- in other words, anyone that those in power seek to neutralize.

The mainstream media already has begun to buy into the cover-up.

The true story -- as reported by a longtime mainstream journalist and a victim of this Bush-era spawned- or expanded "torture matrix," can be found HERE: RE: "GESTAPO USA: Govt't Funded Vigilante Network Terrorizes America"

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 13, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I gave up and looked it up...Breyer.

I dont' know why I thought it was something "weird sounding."

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 13, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

In the House, Republicans and the group Let Freedom Ring are demanding that members pledge not to vote on any healthcare reform bill they have not read. This idea made House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) laugh.

hurry, hurry, before anyone finds out.

Although the President’s first “stimulus” package looks like a failure, it appears Obama’s ready to double down on the idea that another big government stimulus package will spur economic growth.

It's all they know.

If there’s one constant in American politics, it’s that the left-leaning politicians will always oppose ballistic missile defense. Their opinion seems based not on geopolitics or technology, but on dogma.

Unfortunately, President Obama falls into this camp and seems committed to let missile defense wither on the vine, from his slow bleed of missile defense research and deployment to his retreat on the missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Tax and surrender. They're Libs after all.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse


Does Souter really count? He said he was retiring as soon as the term ended, and the term ended last month. So, 6 of 8 for VT, except he missed the old guy and the ice cream guy.

Posted by: mnteng | July 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"vtduff: you named 7 of 9 and are thus missing two, not three.

They are Stevens and..."

I it Stevens and something (for lack of a better word) Weird-Sounding? Like, something with some Wacky consanants in there like Zs or Ks in interesting places?

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

isn't 54 the percentage of people who still fall for Obimbo's lies?


Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

vtduff: you named 7 of 9 and are thus missing two, not three.

They are Stevens and...

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 13, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

when will messiah find a new church? It must be hard playing golf every weekend. He must be missing all that hate by now.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

No surprise given the media's obsession with covering celebrities to the exclusion of nearly everything else. I'm sure these same people who couldn't name a single Supreme Court justice could name Sarah Palin's children or Michael Jackson's or know all the winners of American Idol...

Posted by: RickJ | July 13, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

There's always like a few randos that I always forget. I'm gonna Try off the Top of my head here (Scout's Honor):


Yup that's it. I'm missing 3 of them.

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 13, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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