Following the rulings on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage, public approval of the Supreme 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% of Americans believe the Supreme Court is doing a “good” or an “excellent job.” But 30% rate the court’s performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating measured by Rasmussen for the Supreme Court, and the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Rasmussen also found that 39% rate its performance as fair.
These numbers are even weaker than the numbers Rasmussen reported following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s health care law last year. Prior to the court hearing arguments on the health care law, 28% gave the justices good or excellent marks. However, the number of Americans who actually disapproved was far lower than it is today. Then, following those arguments, because many thought the court was likely to overturn the law, positive ratings for the court shot up to 41%, the highest level in years. When, in the end, the court upheld the health care law, the numbers plummeted again, as 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, Rasmussen says “there were significant changes beneath the surface.” Positive ratings increased among liberal voters by 13%, but fell by 8% among conservatives and by 7% 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 an astonishing 32% to 16%. Positive reviews among moderates has fallen to an equally astonishing 21% – 30%. However, the numbers among liberals remained unchanged.
Overall, 39% of voters now believe the court is too liberal, while 24% believe it is too conservative.
In Gallup’s June 13 measure in confidence of 16 societal institutions index, the Supreme Court fell with Congress and the U.S. health care system, while Americans’ confidence in organized religion and banks increased. Gallup, too, found a small dip after Bush vs. Gore, but confidence recovered shortly after to pre-decision levels.