Public Approval of Supreme Court Falls to All-Time Low

by
July 2, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court finished its term with big decisions on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. Following those rulings, public approval of the court has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded in more than nine years of polling.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% believe the Supreme Court is doing a good or an excellent job. At the same time, 30% rate its performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating. It’s also the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Thirty-nine percent (39%) give the court middling reviews and rate its performance as fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These numbers are even weaker than the numbers recorded following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s health care law last year. Just before the court heard arguments on the health care law, 28% gave the justices good or excellent marks. However, disapproval was far lower than it is today. Then, following those arguments, many thought the court was likely to overturn the law. At that point, positive ratings for the court shot up to 41%, the highest level in years. However, when the court eventually upheld the health care law, the numbers fell again. Just 29% offered a positive review early that September.

Just prior to last week, 30% gave the court good or excellent marks. While the overall number fell only slightly following the final flurry of rulings, there were significant changes beneath the surface. Positive ratings increased among liberal voters by 13 points. However, they fell by eight points among conservatives and by seven among moderates.

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