Supreme Court Returns With Historically Low Approval Rating

Expect 'a lot of 6-3s,' one analyst says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2022 5:00 PM CDT
Supreme Court Returns With Historically Low Approval Rating
The Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington on Friday.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Supreme Court justices never have to run for reelection, or even reconfirmation, which works out for them—especially these days: Public approval of the court has plunged to historic lows, a new poll shows. The share of Americans who say they have at least a "fair amount" of trust in the judiciary is at 47%, a Gallup poll released on Thursday found. That's a 20-point decline from two years ago, and a 7-point drop from last year, the Hill reports. After its rulings earlier this year, including one that overturned Roe v. Wade, more Americans than ever believe the court to be too conservative. Another poll in September, by Marquette University Law School, showed the court's approval rating among US adults at just 40%.

The Gallup poll found Americans are split along party lines in their views of the court, per USA Today: 66% of Republicans trust the court, a 6-point drop since last year, but only 25% of Democrats, a 26-point drop. Popular support is more important to the judiciary than to other branches of government, since it lacks an enforcement mechanism. "The public may not accept a decision as legitimate when it seems like the decision is ... simply rooted in the personnel of the court," said New York University law professor Melissa Murray. "Like it's meaningful that Roe was upheld multiple times by earlier courts and now is overruled as soon as there is a 6-3 conservative supermajority."

With a host of major cases ahead of it this term, including social issues, there's little reason to think the court will change course, per the New York Times. "On things that matter most, get ready for a lot of 6-3s," said Irv Gornstein of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law School. The justices are aware of Americans' perceptions, and several have addressed the issue, including Chief Justice John Roberts. Susan Del Percio, a Republican consultant, said Roberts should work to bring the justices to common ground. "While our institutions are holding," she said, "the people's lack of faith in them is the ultimate demise." (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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