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46% Believe It Is Fair To Oppose a Supreme Court Nominee Over Ideology or Philosophy

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Most voters think anyone a president nominates to a high-level post is entitled to a straight up-or-down vote in the U.S. Senate, but a sizable number still feels it's okay for a senator to oppose a Supreme Court nomination based on the political or judicial leanings of the nominee.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that nearly half (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe that it is fair for a U.S. senator to oppose a high court nominee because of political ideology or judicial philosophy. But that's down 10 points from 56% in April 2010 shortly before President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to serve on the Supreme Court. Thirty-eight percent (38%) feel it is not fair for a senator to oppose a nominee because of their ideology and philosophy, while 16% are unsure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just 27% think the Supreme Court is doing a good or excellent job, up one point from September but down from 33% a year ago. Twenty-nine percent (29%) rate the Supreme Court's job performance as poor, up three points from September and just short of June's all-time high of 30%. 

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters think the Supreme Court is too liberal, down from a high of 40% in June. Twenty-nine percent (29%) feel the court is too conservative, while 26% say its ideology is about right. 

Sixty percent (60%) think most Supreme Court justices have their own political agenda and are not impartial.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on December 26, 2013 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

A plurality of voters (38%) believes that the U.S. legal system worries too much about protecting national security over protecting individual rights. That's up from 33% in November 2012. Twenty-one percent (21%) believe the legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights. Twenty-nine percent (29%) feel the balance between the two issues is about right. 

But 43% said in June that government officials have worried too much about national security at the expense of individual rights when it comes to the National Security Agency's domestic spying program.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) feel the U.S. legal system worries too much about protecting public safety at the expense of individual rights, while 24% feel the system is more concerned about protecting individual rights. Thirty-seven percent (37%) feel the balance is about right. This is generally consistent with findings for several years.

Republicans believe more strongly than Democrats and unaffiliated voters that the legal system worries too much about individual rights when it comes to both national security and public safety. Conservatives share this view more than moderates and liberals do. 

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans and 47% of voters not affiliated with either major political party believe it is fair for a U.S. senator to oppose a Supreme Court nomination based on the nominee’s political ideology or judicial philosophy. Just over half (51%) of Democrats believe this is unfair, while 32% disagree. 

Sixty-three percent (63%) of GOP voters and a plurality (42%) of unaffiliateds consider the high court too liberal. Fifty percent (50%) of Democrats think it's too conservative.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of liberals and 46% of moderates feel that it is unfair for a senator to oppose a nomination on ideological or philosophical grounds. Sixty-five percent (65%) of conservatives disagree.

Men, whites and other minority voters favor opposition based on ideology or philosophy more than women and blacks do.

Seventy percent (70%) of those who believe the Supreme Court is too liberal believe a senator can oppose a nominee based on their ideology or philosophy. Sixty percent (60%) who feel the court is too conservative disagree. 

Voters continue to adamantly defend their constitutional freedoms, but 55% consider the federal government a threat to those rights.

Democrats strongly trust the president more than Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, while Republicans and unaffiliated voters have mixed feelings about all three branches of the federal government.

Only 33% believe most judges in their rulings follow the letter of the law.

Forty-one percent (41%) of Americans believe that the U.S. Supreme Court is too hostile towards religion.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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