Quiz: How much do you know about the US Supreme Court? Test your knowledge

Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson begin Monday, March 21, 2022.
Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson begin Monday, March 21, 2022.
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With the confirmation hearings on Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court having mercifully concluded and a vote to confirm her imminent, it’s time to test your knowledge about the history of our nation’s highest court. Columnist-Professor Ricky Jones challenged us a few months ago with his pop quiz on Black American history. I should have done better on it, but I did get more answers right than Joe Gerth. (Not sure how impressive THAT is!) Fearing that the average reader might need an edge, as we say on the racetrack, I’ve made my test easier by making it multiple choice. The first person who contacts me with the most correct answers and verifiable proof they did not cheat will win a uniquely Kentucky trio of prizes: a fifth of Rebel Yell bourbon, a carton of unfiltered cigarettes and a box of blank absentee ballots. Good luck!

If you cannot see the quiz below, click here or scroll to see the questions and answer key.

1. He grew up in a house on Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky that still stands. He overcame anti-Semitism to become the Supreme Court’s first Jewish justice and one of the most renowned in the court’s history.

a. Robert Klein

b. Louis D. Brandeis

c. Arthur Goldberg

d. David J. Leibson

2. Born in Louisa, Kentucky, this man served in all three branches of government before becoming the last Chief Justice appointed by a Democratic President.

a. Louie R. Guenthner, Jr.

b. Charles Evans Hughes

c. Robert M. Stephens

d. Fred M. Vinson

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3. Abraham Lincoln said of his enigmatic Secretary of Treasury “he’s not happy unless he’s miserable” and made him Chief Justice in 1864.

a. Salmon P. Chase

b. Morrison R. Waite

c. Melville Fuller

d. Edwin M. Stanton

4. He was the first Roman Catholic justice, but contributed an execrable opinion to the infamous Dred Scott case that will always be the Supreme Court’s worst decision ever.

a. Joseph McKenna

b. Edward Douglass White

c. Roger B. Taney

d. William J. Clarke

5. When asked if he made any mistakes while in office, outgoing president Dwight Eisenhower famously replied: “Yes, I made two of them and they’re both sitting on the Supreme Court.” Who were those justices?

a. Earl Warren and William J. Brennan

b. Harry Blackmun and Warren Burger

c. Dan Kelly and David L. Williams

d. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

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6. Name the four conservative justices who were called the “Four Horsemen” because they always voted as a bloc to strike down New Deal legislation.

a. Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, and Roosevelt Grier

b. Pierce Butler, James McReynolds, George Sutherland, and Willis Van Devanter

c. William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, and Frank Murphy

d. Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden

7. In a single four-year term, this president named six justices to the Supreme Court, including a Chief Justice whom he would succeed in 1921.

a. William Howard Taft

b. John Adams

c. John Quincy Adams

d. Calvin Coolidge

8. Which president below nominated Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice?

a. John F. Kennedy

b. Theodore Roosevelt

c. Andrew Johnson

d. Lyndon Johnson

9. In 1803, for the first time, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional an act of Congress, thus establishing the concept of “judicial review.” Name this landmark case.

a. Buck v. Bell

b. Plessy v. Ferguson

c. Kramer v. Kramer

d. Marbury v. Madison

10. At 32, he was the youngest justice ever nominated and also one of the most brilliant. (As proof of that brilliance, he was a former state Representative.) Who was he?

a. Joseph Story

b. John Marshall Harlan, II

c. John Marshall

d. Fred C. Dobbs

11. He was wounded three times in the Civil War and was the high court’s most eloquent and elegant writer, often in dissent. Who was “The Yankee from Olympus?”

a. Benjamin N. Cardozo

b. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

c. Harlan Fiske Stone

d. Samuel H. Monarch

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12. When he switched his vote to uphold the constitutionality of New Deal legislation, this justice negated the reason for Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing bill. It was called “The Switch in Time That Saved Nine.”

a. Owen J. Roberts

b. John G. Roberts, Jr.

c. Robert H. Jackson

d. John M. Berry

13. Frustrated at trying to define “pornography,” this justice wrote in an opinion that “I know it when I see it” and regretted saying that for the rest of his life.

a. Lewis F. Powell

b. Daniel Schneider

c. R. David Stengel

d. Potter Stewart

14. The Constitution requires the Chief Justice to preside over impeachment trials in the U.S. Senate. Who presided over President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999?

a. Sandra Day O’Connor

b. Flannery O’Connor

c. William Rehnquist

d. Bruce Butler

15. The Supreme Court finally got its own building in Washington that opened in 1935. What are the words engraved over the main entrance?

a. “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

b. “Sic Semper Tyrannis”

c. “Equal Justice Under Law”

d. “Government Of The People, By The People, And For The People Shall Not Perish From The Earth.”

Bob Heleringer, an attorney, is a former member of the state House of Representatives (1980-2002). He can be reached at helringr@bellsouth.net


B, D, A, C, A, B, A, D, D, A, B, A, D, C, C

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Test your US Supreme Court knowledge with this 15 question quiz