By Eric Zuesse:
A poll of “1,004 Americans” that was issued on 7 May 2014 by Democracy Corps, a Democratic-Party-aligned but scientifically rigorous and respected polling organization, finds that the current U.S. Supreme Court is despised by many people but least of all by Democrats. It’s despised the most by Independents. The chief reason it’s despised is that “By a nearly two-to-one ratio, Americans say Supreme Court Justices OFTEN let their own personal or political views influence their decisions rather than deciding cases based on legal analysis.”
Whereas 28% of Independents, and 26% of Republicans rate “Supreme Court Job Performance” as being “Poor,” only 18% of Democrats do.
Whereas only 29% of Independents and 33% of Republicans rate it as “Excellent or Good,” 43% of Democrats do.
Whereas 63% of Independents and 62% of Republicans say “The current U.S. Supreme Court justices often let their own personal or political views influence their decisions,” only 54% of Democrats do.
This poll finds that “belief that the Court is too political is higher with white Americans and older Americans.” That finding is consistent with this Supreme Court’s lower approval by conservatives than by liberals, because conservatism, and Republican affiliation, are higher for both of those two categories: “white” and “older.”
However an anomalous finding in this poll is that Republicans, who tend to be both “white” and “older” voters, are also the most supportive group regarding the Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which said that corporations are “people” who should must be granted a privileged position of having no upper limit on the amount of money (or “free speech”) that they are allowed to contribute to politics. Of course, that ruling was pushed by the Republican Party, so it’s natural that Republicans would support it more (26%) than either Democrats (17%) or Independents (15%) do. But Republicans tend also to be both white and old, which are the two groups that the most strongly hold the “belief that this Court is too political.”
This poll asked respondents their views of 7 different common proposals to “Reform” the Court; and there was similar and overwhelming support by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, for each one of the 7 proposals.
In sum: this poll showed that the current Supreme Court is highly unpopular, especially with Independents and Republicans, and that its Citizens United ruling is especially unpopular, but that Democrats, who are the most opposed to the Citizens United ruling, are nonetheless the least opposed to this Supreme Court overall.
Precisely what the American public considers to be overly political about this Court cannot be determined from the poll’s results.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.