Polling on the Court

Some liberal commentators have sought to portray the Supreme Court as radically conservative and out-of-step with the American people.  Interestingly enough, the public does not appear to agree, and does not want a more “liberal” court.

On April 30, the Washington Post reported on a new Washington Post-ABC poll:

Even though Obama and the Democratic leadership in the Senate have complained that the court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has become too “activist” and conservative, the public sees things differently.Overall, 46 percent say the current court is balanced in its decisions, a figure basically unchanged from when the question was asked three years ago. But now, 26 percent consider it too liberal, compared with 21 percent who say it is too conservative. Three years ago, 31 percent called the Supreme Court’s rulings too conservative and 18 percent thought they were too liberal. . . .

The swing has been mostly among Republicans. In 2007, 26 percent of Republicans described the court’s rulings as too liberal; that figure jumped to 43 percent in the new poll.Views among Democrats and independents have not shifted as dramatically. Independents are more apt to call the court too liberal (26 percent, compared with 19 percent who say it is too conservative) than in 2007 (20 percent too liberal, 29 percent too conservative). Among Democrats, 35 percent call the court too conservative (down from 43 percent in 2007) and 15 percent consider it too liberal, about the same as in 2007.

The poll also showed that the public values judicial and other experience, but is not particularly concerned about diverstiy in the next Supreme Court pick.

A new Gallup poll reports similar findings.  They also reported:

Justice Stevens has been one of the Supreme Court’s more reliable liberal votes. Given Obama’s political leanings, it is likely that he will select a left-leaning replacement who would essentially keep the ideological composition of the court intact.

Americans, however, would prefer a new Supreme Court justice who makes the court more conservative (42%) over one who would make the Court more liberal (27%). Gallup found essentially the same result last May prior to Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor to replace David Souter.