A new Gallup poll shows some interesting insights into the approval of the Supreme Court after its major rulings on abortion, guns, and other issues. The overall approval of the Supreme Court at 43 percent actually increased three points. While within the margin of error, it was up from last year’s 40% popularity. The poll comes after the surprising comments of Justice Elena Kagan that the Court may be losing legitimacy by bucking public opinion on issues like abortion.
The slight increase is not due to a stable base of supporters but rather the shift among Democrats and Republicans. The most significant shift was among Republicans from 29 percent to 72 percent support. This offset a decline among Democrats from 23 percent to 13 percent.
The 43 percent rating puts the Supreme Court roughly where it landed in 2005, 2013, 2014, 2016, and last year.
Among independents, approvals remains around 40 percent (a slight decrease but consistent with prior years).
There is also a sharp difference on gender with disapproval by women at 61 percent as opposed to 49 percent among men.
The low level of support among Democrats is alarming given the push among Democrats to pack the Court with an immediate liberal majority and other reckless proposals. Now that the Court has a conservative majority, many Democrats have turned on the Court and its members.
Kagan’s comment seemed consistent with the criticism of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) that the Court was improperly departing from “widely held public opinion.” Warren used the complaint to justify her call for raw court packing to produce an instant liberal majority.
The poll, however, shows a deep division on the Court and its legitimacy after the recent rulings. The overall approval rate shows substantial support for the Court despite dramatic shifts based on political affiliation.
The 43 percent approval rating is still far better than the 18 percent for Congress in Gallop polling. That is half of the peak for Congress last Spring, which was only 36 percent. It is also higher than the approval rating for President Biden, which stands at 38 percent.
Fortunately, the Court is designed to resist such pressures and polling. Justices are expected not to reflect the demands of public polling but the demands of the Constitution in ruling on cases.