Americans trust TV judges more than real ones

May 9, 2013
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Based on numbers released by Reader’s Digest Tuesday, Americans polled by the company have more faith and trust in Judge Judy that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Reader’s Digest issued a press release touting the “100 Most Trusted People in America.” The complete results of the poll aren’t available until May 14. The release includes interesting figures, but the one that’s most relevant for us is how much trust Americans place in TV judges as compared to the nation’s Supreme Court justices.

Judge Judith Sheindlin, otherwise known as Judge Judy, is the most trusted judge in America, based on these respondents’ answers. Those polled were asked to rank each name on a list of more than 200 people on how trustworthy they thought each individual is. She topped all of the Supreme Court justices, earning her a score of 51 percent. Judge Joe Brown came in at 48 percent. The release doesn’t say how the other TV judges (such as my favorite, Judge Marilyn Milian of “The People’s Court”) or the U.S. justices fared.

The release doesn’t explain why some people scored as they did, including the judges. My guess is that the average American knows more about Judge Judy than our Supreme Court justices, thanks to her show coming into his or her home daily. The problems and cases that come before the TV judges are less complicated than those our Supreme Court justices deal with. Most people will be able to understand what’s going on in a dog bite case but perhaps don’t know enough (or don’t care enough) to follow a case involving campaign contributions or patents on seeds.

One might use this poll as a jumping off point to argue for televising oral arguments of the U.S. Supreme Court. Granted, the number of people who watch the arguments would be small, and news stations likely won’t pick up on the arguments (with the exceptions of high-profile cases like health care and same-sex marriage). But at least the option is there for those who want to know what goes on in D.C. Reading a transcript of the arguments later just doesn’t have the same effect.
 

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