John Roberts is the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Um . who?
Roberts, along with his eight colleagues on the nation's highest court, are virtual strangers to most Americans, according to a recent study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
The study, which was released as part of an annual survey about constitutional issues, showed that only 30 percent know that Supreme Court decisions are the final interpretations of the law.
It also revealed that 72 percent don't know who Roberts is, while two-thirds of those surveyed could name one of the three American Idol judges.
"These survey findings show just how important it is to educate all Americans about their government and the Constitution that created it," Annenberg director Kathleen Hall Jamieson said in a press release. "The health of a democracy depends on an enlightened and engaged citizenry."
Political Science professors said they weren't surprised by the results, though they believe it isn't that vital for most to be familiar with the Supreme Court.
"Most Americans will go from the cradle to the grave" without contact with the judicial system, said Political Science professor Richard Johnston.
Knowledge about America's legal system is "desirable but not absolutely necessary," said Political Science professor Rogers Smith, who noted availability of legal counsel to explain the structure.
Even so, some say basic knowledge of the judicial system is still necessary.
"In general, it is important to know how [government institutions] work and how institutions affect citizens and how citizens affect institutions," said Fels Institute of Government director and Political Science professor Donald Kettl.
Penn student, fortunately, seem to be bucking the trend.
"I haven't noticed a significant decline over the years," in students' knowledge of government, Rogers said.
He added that he finds them to be "more or less informed" about constitutional issues.
To combat the survey results, the Annenberg Public Policy Center is distributing informational DVDs to over 27,000 schools around the nation.
The DVDs feature high-school students discussing the judicial system with current justices.
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