What’s a lot more popular with voters than the Supreme Court? The right to have an abortion. That’s the finding of two national surveys from the Marquette University Law School Poll released Wednesday and Thursday.
Marquette finds that the Supreme Court’s approval has plummeted in the past two years from 66% approval in September 2020 to 40% this month. That means just 40% of adults approve of the job the U.S. Supreme Court is doing. That’s across the board—all ages and gender identifications disapprove of the court by large margins.
It is brutal. But it also means that the majority of people believe the court needs to change. That includes a slight majority of 51% who support increasing the number of justices on the court.
Looking at the crosstabs is instructive: 62% of people 18-29 want to see the change, and 60% of people 30-44 support it. The 72% of Democrats who want expansion isn’t too surprising, but the 51% of independents who support it is. Court expansion gets 54% approval from people who consider themselves “moderate.”
People have begun to stop thinking about the court as a nonpartisan, unbiased, above-the-fray institution and start seeing it for what it is, leading to this interesting result.
Members of the public have come to think the Court should pay more attention to public opinion in reaching its decisions than was their view in September 2020, when 44% said the Court should consider public opinion and 55% said it should not. By contrast, in the current survey, two years later, 61% say public opinion should be considered and 39% say it should not be considered.
So much of this is about the SCOTUS decision to end the constitutional right to an abortion, a decision that is opposed by 61%, while 30% favor the ruling and 10% say they lack an opinion. Abortion rights, on the other hand, are very popular: 68% say it should be legal in all (31%) or most (37%) cases.
It might be hard for the institutionalists in the Congress and the White House to come around to the idea that the court is fundamentally broken and the only way to restore it is to expand it. But that’s clearly not a radical conclusion for the majority of Americans, who have undergone a significant shift in attitude about the role the court should be playing. That was brought on by the Trump-packed court itself, when it decided to go all out on imposing an extremist partisan agenda on all of us.
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