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Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can't Name Any U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Says FindLaw Survey

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 20, 2003 – Sixty-three percent of American adults cannot recall the names of any of the nine justices currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new national survey. The survey conducted by FindLaw, the leading legal Web site, found that only 35 percent of American adults could name at least one current Supreme Court justice. Less than one percent could correctly name all nine justices.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, was the justice most frequently identified, followed by Justice Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The percentages of Americans who could name each justice were as follows:

25% Sandra Day O'Connor
21% Clarence Thomas
10% William Rehnquist
9% Antonin Scalia
9% Ruth Bader Ginsburg
4% David Souter
4% Anthony Kennedy
2% Stephen Breyer
1% John Paul Stevens

"The results of the survey are disappointing, but not surprising," said Professor Stephen Presser of Northwestern University School of Law. "I suspect that the American public generally believes that it doesn't really matter much who serves on the Supreme Court, because they believe the Court is objectively applying the Constitution and laws when it makes a decision. The truth of the matter is, it makes an enormous amount of difference who serves on the Court. Our political parties are very much divided over whether judges should passively follow the law or legislate from the bench, with President Bush committed to appointing judges who will promise not to legislate from the bench, and Senate Democrats committed to opposing his nominees. This is an issue that ought to be of great concern to the public, but really hasn't attracted much attention."

During its current session, the Supreme Court heard cases involving university race-based admissions policies, abortion protests, restrictions on Internet access in public libraries and laws banning cross burnings. Information including U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1893, profiles of Justices, court calendars, briefs and listings of current cases can be found at FindLaw (www.findlaw.com). Detailed results of the survey can be found at www.findlaw.com/survey/SCsurveyresults.html

The national survey used a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

About FindLaw

FindLaw (www.findlaw.com) is the leading provider of online legal information and solutions for the legal community, businesses and individuals. The FindLaw Internet portal is the highest-trafficked legal Web site, according to leading independent Internet-traffic-monitoring services. The site provides comprehensive, plain-English legal information to businesses and individuals. These resources include West Legal Directory®, the Internet's largest directory of lawyers and legal professionals. FindLaw also offers comprehensive information, resources and services for law practice and legal career development, including free case law, an online career center, breaking legal news, newsletters, message boards, service directories, continuing legal education and legal search tools. In addition, FindLaw provides access to tools and services that help connect legal professionals with potential clients. FindLaw is a division of West, a Thomson business (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC) and the foremost provider of integrated information solutions to the U.S. legal market.

About West

Headquartered in Eagan, Minn., West is the foremost provider of integrated information solutions to the U.S. legal market. West is a business within The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC) and was formed when West Publishing and Thomson Legal Publishing merged in June 1996. For more information, please visit the West Web site at www.westgroup.com.

The Thomson Corporation

The Thomson Corporation, with 2002 revenues of $7.8 billion, is a global leader in providing integrated information solutions to business and professional customers. Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate training and assessment, scientific research and healthcare. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges (TSX: TOC; NYSE: TOC).

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