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What Do Voters Think of the Supreme Court Now?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Praise and criticism of the U.S. Supreme Court are inching down again after last month's major rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, and voters are more likely now to think the court’s ideology skews liberal.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 36% of Likely U.S. Voters still think the high court is doing a good or excellent job, but that's down from the recent high of 38% measured just after the court issued its rulings in June. Thirty-one percent (31%) now give the high court a poor rating, also down from last month's all-time high of 33% but still higher than findings in surveys since November 2006. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Voters are closely divided in their opinions of both of last month’s rulings, but younger voters are more supportive than their elders are, especially in the case of gay marriage. 

Thirty-eight percent (38%) believe the Supreme Court is too politically liberal. That’s up three points from May and is the highest level measured since June 2013. Just 23% think the high court is too conservative, the lowest finding in two years. But 30% now consider the Supreme Court’s ideology to be about right.

Most voters have long believed that the Supreme Court justices have their own political agenda.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 20-21, 2015 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.

Voters believe more strongly that individual states should have the right to turn their backs on the federal courts.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republican voters think the Supreme Court is too liberal. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Democrats consider the high court’s ideology as about right, but nearly as many (35%) think it’s too conservative. Among those not affiliated with either party, 36% think the court is too liberal; 22% say it’s too conservative, and 31% say it’s about right.

Half (50%) of Democrats give the Supreme Court positive marks for its performance, but only 26% of Republicans and 32% of unaffiliated voters do the same. Forty-seven percent (47%) of GOP voters and 34% of unaffiliateds think the court is doing a poor job.

Voters under 40 give more praise to the Supreme Court than their elders do and are far less likely to view it as being too liberal politically.

Self-described politically conservative voters are the most critical of the high court’s bias. Seventy percent (70%) of these voters think the Supreme Court is too liberal, while just under half (48%) of liberal voters see the court as being too conservative. A plurality (42%) of moderates think the court’s ideology is about right.

Voters who think the court’s ideology is too liberal are far more critical of its performance compared to other voters.

Voters are less likely than ever to think the U.S. system of justice is fair to Americans overall.

Voters remain closely divided over the issue of gay marriage, with supporters continuing to have a slight edge. But just 35% think the laws governing marriage should be set by the federal government. 

Most voters continue to oppose the health care law and want to make major changes in it or dump it completely.

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

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