Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News.
Those findings are a fresh indication that the court’s standing with the public has slipped significantly in the past quarter-century, according to surveys conducted by several polling organizations. Approval was as high as 66 percent in the late 1980s, and by 2000 approached 50 percent.The decline in the court’s standing may stem in part from Americans’ growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular. But it also could reflect a sense that the court is more political, after the ideologically divided 5-to-4 decisions in Bush v. Gore, which determined the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United, the 2010 decision allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions.
On the highest-profile issue now facing the court, the poll found that more than two-thirds of Americans hope that the court overturns some or all of the 2010 health care law when it rules, probably this month. There was scant difference in the court’s approval rating between supporters and opponents of the law.Asked about the health care case, 41 percent of those surveyed said the court should strike down the entire law, and another 27 percent said the justices should overturn only the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.Only 24 percent said they hoped the court “would keep the entire health care law in place.”These numbers have not changed much in recent months and appeared to be largely unaffected by the more than six hours of arguments in the Supreme Court in March.Some respondents said their view of the court could drop, depending on how it rules. “The government is mandating that you have to buy something, and that shouldn’t be the case,” said Chuck Eriksen, 80, an independent of Cardington, Ohio. “I don’t like the whole thing in general. My opinion of the Supreme Court will diminish if they approve of it.”