For those who are technologically savvy, log into social media websites or use online search engines, Tuesday’s trending topic was that college graduates thought television’s “Judge Judy” is a Supreme Court justice.

News agencies cited the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s poll, which indicated one in 10 graduates believe Judith Sheindlin is a  justice on the high court.

One headline implied the students are “alarmingly ignorant.”

I think it’s unfair to use that label, despite the perception college students “should be educated.”

A Washington Post opinion, written by John Sides, clarifies that the poll used Sheindlin’s real name for the multiple choice question and didn’t identify her as “Judge Judy.”

For whatever reason, I still would not have picked Sheindlin’s name because between college classes, her syndicated program was the only thing on television, and I think her name is used in the opening credits of the show.

Yet I don’t expect all college students to watch the show or even know who she is.

I would not have picked John Kerry’s name, who was another name listed in the multiple choice possibilities.

Elena Kagan and Lawrence Warren Pierce’s names would have been my process of elimination choices; and to be honest, I probably would have chosen Pierce’s name.

Pierce is retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals, and between reading numerous news stories since at least junior high, and hearing numerous politician names, Pierce’s is one I’ve heard of.

During my senior year of high school government class, one of my test questions was to name all the Supreme Court Justices.

Of the ones serving in 2003, Sandra Day O’Connor, who is now retired, and Clarence Thomas, who’s served since 1991 and is still a current justice, are the only ones I remember.

As a journalist, it’d be embarrassing if I didn’t know Chief Justice John Roberts’ name. His is probably the quickest I’d name from memory.

However, without research, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Anthony Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are names I don’t remember seeing often. Even without research, Ginsburg, Alito and Breyer’s names are ones I’m not too familiar with.

In Sides’ opinion article, I think he makes a valid point to state 66 percent of the college students polled correctly identified Kagan as a justice.

I commend the news agencies that cited the study and then named the Supreme Court justices, but some did not.

If anything is gained from the study, and what Sides implies are misleading headlines, I think it would be that hopefully Americans, college educated or not, research who the Supreme Court justices are — granted, in a few years, who knows who will retire and who becomes a new nominated justice. Yet again, a new name to remember.

Current justices can be found by going to

For Texas’ Supreme Court Justices, go to

Rachael Riley covers Harker Heights and Nolanville. Contact her at  or 254-501-7553.

Contact Rachael Riley at or 254-501-7553

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.