02 December 2022

Distrust in Supreme Court Climbs

Welcome back. About a month ago, I released a blog post, Americans Need Civics Class. The post highlighted the results of the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Civics Knowledge Survey. Wrapping up the post, I mentioned that the center would soon publish the survey’s findings on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

The Supreme Court Building, west fa├žade (from www.britannica.com/event/Bollinger-decisions or see www.supremecourt.gov/about/courtbuilding.aspx).
Well, the findings appeared, but I hesitated. How affected would they be by the court’s overturning Roe v. Wade two months before the survey was conducted. I finally decided it didn’t matter. SCOTUS has survived many controversial decisions over the years (e.g., modifying the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2013, reversing century-old campaign finance restrictions in 2010 with Citizens United, Roe v. Wade in 1973).

So here we go. As a reminder, the national survey of 1,113 U.S. adults was conducted by phone by the research company SSRS August 2-13, 2022. It has a margin of error of ± 3.6% at the 95% confidence level.

Survey Highlights

Disapproval: 53% of respondents disapprove of how SCOTUS is handling its job; Democrats, 76%, Republicans, 25%. 

Question: How much do you approve or disapprove of the way SCOTUS is handling its job? Independents, other party, or no party (modified from cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Appendix_APPC_SCOTUS_Oct_2022.pdf).
Distrust: 53% of respondents have little or no trust in SCOTUS to operate in the best interests of American people; Democrats 68%, Republicans, 29%; total distrust up from 31% in 2019.

Question: How much do you trust SCOTUS to operate in best interests of the American people? (modified from cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Appendix_APPC_SCOTUS_Oct_2022.pdf).
Decisions: 40% of respondents say SCOTUS justices set aside personal and political views and make rulings based on the constitution, law and facts; Democrats 29%, Republicans, 55%; total down from 59% in 2021.

Question: Do you think SCOTUS justices set aside personal and political views and make rulings based on constitution, law and facts? (modified from cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Appendix_APPC_SCOTUS_Oct_2022.pdf).
Conservative or Liberal: 49% of respondents think SCOTUS is sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative depending on the law and facts of the case; down from 63% in 2019.

Power: 54% of respondents feel SCOTUS has about the right amount of power; down from 70% in 2019, but up from 48% in 2013.

Politics: 69% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that SCOTUS gets too mixed up in politics; 28% disagree.

Number of Justices: 38% of respondents strongly or somewhat oppose increasing the number of justices, 30% strongly or somewhat favor increasing the number of justices, and 32% have no opinion.

Wrap Up
Overall, the Supreme Court took a bit of a hit, mainly from Democrats, presumably responding to Roe v. Wade being overturned with the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

On that specific issue, 58% of survey respondents strongly or somewhat disapprove of the decision that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion and that abortion laws can be set by each state; 39% strongly or somewhat approve.

Thanks for stopping by.

Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey: www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/political-communication/civics-knowledge-survey/
Supreme Court survey methodology and results: cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Appendix_APPC_SCOTUS_Oct_2022.pdf
Article on Supreme Court survey on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/967308

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