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Americans weigh in on High Court

Nearly half of Americans know very little about the confirmation and appointment process for justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive.

The online poll, taken as the court approaches its first term with the newly confirmed Justice Elena Kagan, shows two in five Americans — or 42 percent — say they are not knowledgeable about the Supreme Court confirmation process.

The poll, released this week, surveyed 2,775 adults between Aug. 9 and 16 with 44 percent saying they are somewhat knowledgeable about the process and 14 percent very knowledgeable.

During the confirmation process, however, a strong majority of Americans — 81 percent — agree that nominees should be required to answer questions on specific issues and how they would vote in specific court cases, both past cases and hypothetical ones, while 54 percent feel they should answer questions about their personal life.

A breakdown by party shows 76 percent of Republicans say nominees should be required to say how they would vote in specific court cases, including both past and hypothetical ones, compared to 54 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Independents.

Similarly, 71 percent of Republicans think nominees should be required to answer questions about their personal life, compared to 49 percent each of Democrats and Independents.

Each time a Supreme Court justice is confirmed, the debate begins anew over whether the process is productive or not. Americans broadly approve of the activity of the Court, yet many say they are not knowledgeable about its practices, the survey revealed.

Detailed survey results are available at www.harrisinteractive.com.