Poll: Clarence Thomas is most recognizable, most favorable SCOTUS justice

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has earned a reputation for remaining largely quiet on the bench.

According to a new poll, however, he emerged as the most recognized justice currently serving on the nation’s highest court — not to mention the most popular.

Recognizable names

YouGov and The Economist conducted the online survey between March 6-9, polling 1,500 individuals “representative of all U.S. citizens” with a margin of error listed as 2.7%.

One question asked respondents whether they have a “favorable” or “unfavorable” opinion of the individual justices as well as whether their names are recognizable.

The top three names — Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — are considered part of the court’s conservative wing and were recognizable to 67%, 66%, and 64% of those polled, respectively.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor came in fourth place with 62% of respondents recognizing her, after which there was a significant dropoff for the remaining five justices. Justice Stephen Breyer came in last place with recognition from just 44% of those surveyed.

Notably, Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Barrett each survived contentious U.S. Senate hearings prior to their ultimate confirmations, leading pollsters to determine that this could be one reason they represent the most recognizable names on the bench.

Political preferences

For Sotomayor’s part, her participation in the recent inauguration ceremony by administering the oath of office to Vice President Kamala Harris likely helped her favorability score.

Thomas also attracted the highest favorability rating in the poll with 37%. Sotomayor came in a close second with 36%.

As expected, approval for most of the justices broke down largely along ideological lines. For example, Thomas was viewed favorably by 59% of Republicans while Sotomayor received a favorable rating from 63% of Democrats. On the other hand, just over 2 in 10 Democrats gave Thomas a favorable rating and only 13% of GOP respondents approved of Sotomayor.

The poll also gauged support for “the way the Supreme Court of the United States is handling its job,” determining that Democrats are more likely to approve than Republicans.

Overall, 41% of respondents approved of the court’s performance, compared to 37% who disapproved. Given its decision not to hear cases on various topics, including a challenge to the results of November’s presidential election, it might not be surprising that Republicans are less likely to show their support.

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