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Public Approval of Supreme Court Falls to All-Time Low

Monday, July 01, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court finished its term with big decisions on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. Following those rulings, public approval of the court has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded in more than nine years of polling.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% believe the Supreme Court is doing a good or an excellent job. At the same time, 30% rate its performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating. It’s also the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Thirty-nine percent (39%) give the court middling reviews and rate its performance as fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

These numbers are even weaker than the numbers recorded following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s health care law last year. Just before the court heard arguments on the health care law, 28% gave the justices good or excellent marks. However, disapproval was far lower than it is today. Then, following those arguments, many thought the court was likely to overturn the law. At that point, positive ratings for the court shot up to 41%, the highest level in years. However, when the court eventually upheld the health care law, the numbers fell again. Just 29% offered a positive review early that September.

Just prior to last week, 30% gave the court good or excellent marks. While the overall number fell only slightly following the final flurry of rulings, there were significant changes beneath the surface. Positive ratings increased among liberal voters by 13 points. However, they fell by eight points among conservatives and by seven among moderates.

Following the Supreme Court session four years ago, 48% thought the justices were doing a good or an excellent job. The numbers have been all downhill since then. During 2010 and 2011, the ratings were in the mid-30s. 

Looking back over the past four years, the changes have been remarkable. Following the 2009 court session, 48% of conservatives gave the court good marks. So did 51% of moderates and 46% of liberals. Since then, approval among conservatives has fallen by 32 points to 16%. Positive reviews among moderates has fallen 21 points to 30%. However, the numbers among liberals are unchanged.

Overall, 39% of voters now believe the court is too liberal, while 24% believe it is too conservative. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 28-29, 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.

Just 21% of voters believe that the government today has the consent of the governed.

Currently, 43% believe the justice system is fair to most Americans, but only 32% believe it is fair to poor Americans. Forty-five percent (45%) feel the system is fair to black and Hispanic Americans. These numbers changed little over the past week.

Recent polling finds that 41% of American Adults believe that the Supreme Court is too hostile towards religions, while 15% believe it is too friendly. Thirty percent (30%) believe the balance is about right. 

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

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