A Gallup poll conducted two weeks after the end of the Supreme Court’s 2011-2012 term shows that overall opinions of the Court remain near all-time historic lows. While immediate reactions to the Court’s ruling on the Arizona immigration law and on health care reform track in accordance with the highly political nature of those cases, approval of the Court continues on its downward spiral.
AFJ’s earlier poll also reflected this trend. It found public opinion of the Court at an all-time low, with record numbers of Americans viewing the Court as making decisions based on their political biases rather than the merits of the cases before them. The Gallup poll reaches largely the same conclusions, finding that overall public disapproval of the Supreme Court has dropped by five percent between September 2011 and July 2012.
The Gallup poll revealed that Democrats and Republicans have reacted differently to the Court’s end-of-term rulings, with approval of the Court between September 2011 and July 2012 dropping 21 percent among Republicans but rising 22 percent among Democrats. The Gallup pollsters have speculated that the divergence between Republic and Democratic views of the Court likely reflects immediate reactions to the closely watched ruling on health care reform.
However, as AFJ has noted, the ruling, while a victory for supporters of President Obama’s signature health reform law, also contained potential dangers in the Court’s narrow view of the Commerce Clause, the foundation for a host of civil rights, environmental, consumer protection, and worker’s rights laws.
Cases involving affirmative action in college admission policies and consumer rights are already on the Court’s docket for the fall; cases involving voting rights and marriage equality are certain to come before the Court in the near future. Alliance for Justice will continue to monitor the Court—and the public attitudes toward it—as the implications of the Court’s ruling in the health care case, and others, play out in the coming terms.