34% Recognize Sandra Day O’Connor As First Woman on Supreme Court

Given a list of four politically prominent women, 34% recognize that Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 36% mistakenly believe that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the first woman on the Court. Three percent (3%) believe that honor was earned by current Justice Sonia Sotomayor and 3% named Margaret Chase Smith. Smith never served on the Supreme Court, but was the first woman to serve in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

Even when presented with a list of names, 23% were not able to identify the name of the first female Supreme Court Justice.

Among voters 55 and older, a plurality– but not a majority– correctly identified O’Connor. A plurality of younger voters thought it was Ginsuburg. A poll conducted the day after Ginsburg’s passing showed that she was viewed favorably by 64% of voters.

Thirty-one percent (31%) of voters identified Ronald Reagan as the first president to appoint a woman to the Court. A slightly larger number–35%– did not know.

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Note: Neither Scott Rasmussen, ScottRasmussen.com, nor RMG Research, Inc. have any affiliation with Rasmussen Reports. While Scott Rasmussen founded that firm, he left more than seven years ago and has had no involvement since that time.


The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted online by Scott Rasmussen September 26, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc.  Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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