Friday, June 8, 2012

SCOTUS & Public Approval

Approval Rating for Supreme Court Falls to 44%:

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. 
I'm sure amongst the "get tough" types it will sink even further if the Court throws out LWOP sentences for all juveniles under the age of 18 by the end of the month.

But as with any political issue, you "approve" or "disapprove" of the court depending on your political persuasion.
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.”
Of course it would. Why would you want everyone to have the same free, government-sponsored health care you do, Chuck? 

And I wonder if he'd be alright with dismantling the forced driver's insurance laws that state governments "mandate you have to buy"?

As with anything, opinion of the court ebbs and flows with the decisions it makes and the times of which it is a part. Back when the Court was on its "liberal bent" in the 60's and 70's, issuing decisions which favored criminal defendants, desegregated schools, and choice on abortion, most of the public supported those decisions and the court. Today, those decisions would result in the court being under siege by the torch and pitchfork, angry, reactionary masses.

And the court usually issues opinions that are reflective of the time period in which it sits. So if 2/3 favor striking down part of the health care reform act of 2010 (and 41% favor striking it down in its entirety), then that's the kind of opinion you'll probably see: a hodgepodge series of decisions that throw some aspects of it out and restrict others without a wholesale gutting.

And then the question can move from what will the court do, to asking the 41% who favor outright dismantling of health care what they propose to do with the 50 million people out there who have no insurance and who end up in bankruptcy because of illness.

Let them eat cake, right?

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