Though he is known for being among the quietest justices in U.S. Supreme Court history, a recent poll shows that Justice Clarence Thomas is the most popular person currently serving on the high bench.
Of the nine Supreme Court justices, Thomas ranked highest in favorability overall and was by far the most popular pick among Republicans, according to the Washington Examiner.
Popularity along party lines
Notably, GOP-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts was actually viewed more favorably by Democrats than Republicans in the poll conducted by The Economist/YouGov.
Pollsters surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults between March 6–9 with a sample weighted to accurately represent the nation’s demographics. The results have a margin of error listed as 2.7%.
The poll generally found that the most well-known members of the Supreme Court — for better or worse — happened to be those who were confirmed following a highly contentious nomination process. The top three most recognizable names were Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Overall, Thomas was not only the most well-known but received the highest favorability rating at 37%. Another 30% of respondents viewed him unfavorably and one-third were unsure or had no opinion.
Among just Republicans, Thomas was the clear favorite with a favorability rating of 59%. Rounding out the top three were Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh, with 55% and 53% GOP favorability, respectively.
Roberts emerges as outlier
For Democrats, Justice Sonia Sotomayor received the highest marks with a favorability rating of 63% — just 9% of respondents in the party view her unfavorably. Following in a distant second was Justice Elena Kagen, who was seen favorably by 45% of Democratic respondents compared to a 14% unfavorable rating.
Interestingly, Roberts, who was appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, placed third among Democrats’ most favored justices with 39% favorable and 24% unfavorable ratings. the chief justice’s favorable rating was four points higher than former President Bill Clinton’s appointee Justice Stephen Breyer.
The most favorable SCOTUS justices among Democrats and Republicans:
Sotomayor: 63% favorable / 9% unfavorable
Kagan: 45% / 14%
Roberts: 39% / 24%
— YouGov America (@YouGovAmerica) March 17, 2021
As for how Americans view the performance of the nation’s highest court in general, Democrats are the most approving, with 48% saying they support its actions compared to 34% who do not. Among Republicans, the Supreme Court is actually underwater by a margin of 39% to 41%.
Approval for the Supreme Court’s handling of its duties was evenly split among independents at 40%, while it earned 41% approval — compared to 37% disapproval — overall.