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May 15, 2007

Clear proof SCOTUS should ....?

Scotus_approvalCrime & Consequences reports here on a new Gallup Poll, which finds that "a bare majority of the public approves of the job the Supreme Court is doing, and that compared with last fall, the court's approval ratings are down among Democrats, independents, and Republicans alike."  The poll is intriguing, but the graph showing significant migration of recent approval/disapproval rates perhaps shows that these poll numbers do not really show much. 

I would be intrigued and grateful if any readers can find something significant in these poll numbers.  Of course, I read the recent dip as clear proof that the public is getting increasingly concerned that the Justices are taking such a long time to decided Claiborne and Rita.

May 15, 2007 at 02:48 PM | Permalink


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I would imagine that the SCOTUS’ approval rating will always be low – perhaps below 50%, because, by its nature it is not supposed to succumb to political pressures. Sure, this means that lower-class people might go free, or “those people” might catch a break, but the whole reason for life tenure is to avoid such popularity contests.

On the other hand, I think that the views of the populace are pretty much irrelevant. Despite being given the opportunity to read Supreme Court opinions on the internet, they don’t. While this might be the norm in Pakistan, where mobs of people are supporting or opposing the Supreme Court, this is unacceptable in the US which prides itself on being intellectual.

Posted by: S.cotus | May 15, 2007 3:00:09 PM

I expect that these numbers have a fairly tight relationship with the overall approval of rating of the government. Since its by far the least visible of the branches, I doubt that these numbers have any significance by themselves.

It is interesting that the deepest dip seems to coincide with the nominations of Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Perhaps the public tends to look disfavorably upon the Court when it appears most politicized.

A more meaningful figure would be numbers on the citizenry's overall level of trust and confidence in the judiciary. The real risk to the Court isn't losing its approval rating - it's losing its stature and moral authority.

Posted by: J. Gillespie | May 15, 2007 3:33:27 PM

Considering most people probably don't know what the Supreme Court is, I don't think its "approval" rating is very interesting. Most of the survey respondents would probably be more comfortable venturing an opinion on Paris Hilton or on whether they approve of the campaign to make Sanjaya the winner of the last season of American Idol.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 10:45:15 AM

I can't imagine a more worthless poll. The participants in the poll likely can't name a single Justice, and the subjects of the poll likely couldn't care less what the public writ large thinks about them.

Posted by: bill | May 16, 2007 3:38:35 PM

The time series is pretty short, showing a one month dip due to a controversial decision, and otherwise a pretty steady positive net approval rating.

The SCOTUS approval rating is far greater than that of either Congress or the President, suggested that people trust judges more than politicians.

Posted by: ohwilleke | May 17, 2007 1:31:39 PM

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