Supreme Court's Standing Declines in Public Opinion Poll

The Supreme Court’s standing with the public has declined in the past quarter century. Forty-four percent now approve of the way the court is doing its job, and three-quarters believe the justices’ personal or political views sometimes influence their decisions.

These findings came in a new poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS News and reported by a Times article. They reflected a decline from approval as high as 60 percent in the late 1980s and near 50 percent more recently.

The article did not reach conclusions about the cause of the lower approval rating. It ranks strongly above the approval rating for Congress of 15 percent. A Gallup tracking poll showed President Obama with a 47 percent approval rating.

Possible causes for the latest public judgment of the Supreme Court could be tied to growing distrust in major institutions, or a view that the court has been more political in some of its most high profile cases including Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the article said.

In other findings, one of eight respondents said the Supreme Court’s justices have reached their decisions in cases based on legal analysis alone.

Three out of five respondents agreed with a statement that “appointing Supreme Court justices for life is a bad thing, because it gives them too much power.” One-third took a different view, concurring with a statement that life tenure “is a good thing because it helps keep them independent from political pressures.”

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