July 24, 2013

Supreme Court’s Favorability Edges Below 50%

Blacks’ Views of Court Turn More Negative

Overview

Supreme Court's Declining Favorability.The Supreme Court’s favorability rating has edged below 50% for the first time in nearly three decades of Pew Research Center polling. Currently, 48% have a favorable opinion of the court while 38% have an unfavorable opinion.

In March, before the court’s end-of-term decisions on same-sex marriage and the Voting Rights Act, 52% had a favorable impression of the Supreme Court while 31% had an unfavorable opinion.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults nationwide, finds that African Americans’ views of the court have become much more negative in the aftermath of the court’s decisions.

In March, 61% of blacks viewed the court favorably while 24% had an unfavorable opinion. Blacks View Supreme Court Much Less FavorablyToday, their opinions are divided (44% favorable vs. 41% unfavorable). This is among the lowest favorable ratings for the Supreme Court among blacks in polling dating to 1985.

Less Partisan Views of Court than After Last Year's Health Care RatingThe survey finds that partisan differences in opinions about the Supreme Court – which widened substantially last year after the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act – have narrowed since then. Currently, 54% of Democrats, 48% of Republicans and 47% of independents express favorable opinions of the court.

Last July, there was a 26-point partisan gap in favorable views of the court: 64% of Democrats viewed the court favorably compared with just 38% of Republicans. Since then, favorable ratings of the court have declined 10 points among Democrats, while increasing by 10 points among Republicans. Independents’ views have shown less change (47% favorable today, 51% last July).

Views of Court’s Ideology

Many Conservatives View the Court as Liberal; Many Liberals View It as ConservativeAs was the case in March, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have contrasting opinions about the Supreme Court’s ideology. Half (50%) of conservative Republicans say the court is liberal, compared with just 8% who say it is conservative (35% say it is “middle of the road”). Liberal Growing Conservative Unease with CourtDemocrats are far more likely to say the court is conservative (40%) than liberal (19%), with 35% saying it is middle of the road.

Nearly half of conservative and moderate Democrats (47%) say the court is middle of the road, as do 45% of moderate and liberal Republicans and 44% of independents.

The percentage of conservative Republicans who view the Supreme Court as liberal has increased markedly since the Bush administration. In 2007, just 22% of conservative Republicans said the court was liberal. That percentage rose to 39% in 2010 and stands at 50% today.