The Public Opinion Of Court

Gallup’s latest poll on the Supreme Court shows a sharp uptick in support among Republicans and a concomitant decline among Democrats:


Aaron Blake attributes the partisan split to, well, partisanship:

Just two years ago, after the court upheld the individual mandate portion of Obamacare, Democratic support for the court spiked to 68 percent – near a decade -high. Today, after the Supreme Court ruled that religious employers should be exempt from providing birth control to their employees and continuing rolling back campaign finance rules in McCutcheon v. FEC, the 44 percent of Democrats who endorse the court’s work is near a new low. Similarly, GOP support for the court plunged to 29 percent after the Affordable Care Act decision in 2012 — a new low for the 21st Century. Today, it has spiked to 51 percent — higher than Democrats’.

Even before the current court took over, though, this “what have you done for me lately” attitude was apparent. Republican support for the court peaked at 80 percent after the court signed off on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign victory. It stayed higher than Democrats for most of the next decade, until more liberal justices were introduced on the current court.

To Ian Millhiser, the chart shows “that most Americans have very short memories when it comes to the Supreme Court”:

And it also suggests that public opinion of the Court is driven by singular, high-profile events rather than by a holistic assessment of the Court’s performance. Democratic support for the Court remained fairly high, for example, after the Supreme Court struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, even though the justices also gutted much of the Voting Rights Act and shielded many bosses who engage in sexual or racial harassment the very same week as the DOMA decision.