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April 15, 2015

Maybe it's time to reintroduce civics to school curriculums. Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy just completed a survey of New Jerseyans on their knowledge of the U.S. Supreme Court. Professors were disturbed by the findings, such as the fact that most residents ( 54 percent) could not name a single U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Moreover, 44 percent did not know that Supreme Court decisions cannot be appealed to the president of the United States; 40 percent did not know the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights; 60 percent believe the Constitution explicitly protects against discrimination based on sex; and 10 percent of adults could not name any of the rights of the first Amendment (speech, religion, assembly, and press).

Not every finding was as disappointing: 75 percent knew Supreme Court justices were nominated by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and 85 percent knew that the Constitution can be amended. Also, a similar study was conducted in 1989, when it was found that 71 percent could not name a single justice on the Court. Maybe this is progress.

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