Public Opinion of Supreme Court Drops to All-Time Low

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Public opinion of the Supreme Court has dropped to its lowest in nine years, according to Rasmussen. Those who believe SCOTUS’ performance is ‘poor’ now outclip those who think it is ‘good or excellent’ by 30-28.

Rasmussen provided a polling overview:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% believe the Supreme Court is doing a good or an excellent job. At the same time, 30% rate its performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating. It’s also the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Thirty-nine percent (39%) give the court middling reviews and rate its performance as fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These numbers are even weaker than the numbers recorded following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s health care law last year.

SCOTUS has been on a downhill slide in public opinion since four years ago, when it enjoyed 48% approval of the court as doing a ‘good or excellent job.’ The drop is most dramatic among conservatives and moderates:

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 32 points to 16%. Positive reviews among moderates has fallen 21 points to 30%. However, the numbers among liberals are unchanged.

This Supreme Court term has ruled on a number of important or landmark cases since the “ObamaCare” ruling (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius) last term, which was decided June 28, 2012:

  • Clapper v. Amnesty International USA (February 26, 2013) — The Supreme Court ruled Amnesty International had no standing to challenge the secrecy and unaccountability of the FISA court.
  • Florida v. Jardines (March 26, 2013) — In a case with implications for contemporary civil liberties issues, the Supreme Court upheld the Fourth Amendment right to be secure in one’s person and property against unreasonable search and seizure.
  • Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (June 24, 2013) — In a case concerning Affirmative Action policies at universities, the Supreme Court voided a lower court decision in favor of UT-Austin, and instructed that the policies should be held to higher scrutiny, in accordance with other precedents.
  • Shelby County v. Holder (June 25, 2013) — Struck down two provisions of the Voting Rights Act (1965) that required certain states to receive “preclearance” from the Department of Justice regarding changes to voting laws and procedures, as well as Congressional redistricting.
  • Hollingsworth v. Perry (June 26, 2013) — Ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 (California’s amendment of the state constitution to legally bar same-sex marriage) do not have standing in court; and since the State of California will not defend Prop 8, it potentially clears the way for same-sex marriage in California.
  • United States v. Windsor (June 26, 2013) — SCOTUS ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional; meaning that same-sex couples could receive federal benefits and have other equal standing under the law as heterosexual married couples.

The Supreme Court is split by ideological disposition, yet it is making sweeping and controversial decisions. Meanwhile, the court is deferential on constitutionally crucial decisions, such as displayed by the “ObamaCare” debacle. Chief Justice employed sophistry to decide that a penalty could be seen as a tax, implying that citizens are subjects of the federal government and can be forced to buy whatever its Washington rulers want. The Supreme Court’s diminishing credibility is thus well-earned.

Editor’s Note: The headline of this article was updated.

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