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Fewer than a third of Americans know Supreme Court rulings are final

Most Americans know little about the workings of the U.S. Supreme Court, including the fact that Supreme Court rulings are final, according to a national survey conducted for the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The findings are being released today in advance of Constitution Day, Monday, September 17.

When asked “if a person disagrees with a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court can he or she appeal the ruling to the Federal Court of Appeals?” only 30 percent know that the high court rulings are final, 32 percent think rulings can be appealed and 38 percent are “not sure” or “don’t know.” 

“These survey findings show just how important it is to educate all Americans about their government and the Constitution that created it,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “The health of a democracy depends on an enlightened and engaged citizenry.” 

Other findings include:

A majority of Americans, 55 percent, do not know that when the Supreme Court rules five to four on a case the decision is the law and needs to be followed. Fourteen percent believe the decision is sent to Congress for reconsideration, seven percent believe the decision is sent back to the lower courts and 34 percent simply “don’t know.”