According to a new AP-NORC poll, 7 in 10 Americans believe Supreme Court justices put ideology ahead of impartiality

WASHINGTON — A enormous majority of Americans say Supreme Court justices are more likely to be guided by their own ideology than to act as neutral arbiters of government power, a new poll shows, as the Supreme Court is set to rule on major cases involving former President Donald Trump and other issues divisive.

Survey from Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center found that 7 in 10 Americans believe Supreme Court justices are more susceptible to ideological influence, while only about 3 in 10 American adults believe judges are more likely to provide an independent check on the other branches of government because they are fair and impartial.

The poll reflects the ongoing erosion of trust in the Supreme Court, which enjoyed wider trust recently, a decade ago. It highlights the challenge facing the nine justices – six appointed by Republican presidents and three by Democrats – in being seen as anything other than just another element of Washington’s hyperpartisanship.

The judges are I expected to make a decision soon Whether Trump is immune from criminal charges in connection with his efforts to overturn his 2020 reelection defeat, but the poll suggests many Americans already have doubts about judges’ ability to rule impartially.

” READ MORE: Justice Clarence Thomas testified that he took three trips on a Republican donor’s plane last year

“It’s very political. There’s no doubt about it,” said Jeff Weddell, a 67-year-old automotive technology sales representative from Macomb County, Michigan, a swing state in the presidential election.

“The court’s decision-making process is very dirty,” said Weddell, an independent who plans to vote for Trump in November. “No matter what they say about President Trump’s immunity, it will be politically motivated.”

Trust in the Supreme Court remains low. The poll of 1,088 adults found that 4 in 10 U.S. adults say they have almost no confidence in those running the Supreme Court, consistent with AP-NORC poll from OctoberAs recently as early 2022, before the high-profile ruling that invalidated the constitutional right to abortion, an AP-NORC poll found that only about a quarter of Americans distrusted judges.

And while the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has won some historic victories in the past few years to defend Republican policy priorities, rank-and-file Republicans have little sympathy for the justices.

” READ MORE: Alito rejects calls to withdraw Supreme Court cases involving Trump and January 6 over flag controversy

Two years have passed since the court ruling on the right to abortion. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – Trump appointees confirmed by the Republican Senate – were among the majority that overturned the nearly 50-year precedent on abortion rights set by Roe v. Wade.

This year’s term of office, (*7*)with a dozen cases still unresolvedThere have already been several significant judgments. Earlier in June, the Supreme Court unanimously preserved access to the pharmaceutical drug mifepristone, a drug used in nearly two-thirds of all U.S. abortions last year. In the same week the court (*10*)ended Trump-era gun restrictionsa ban on accessories for rapid-fire weapons called bump stocks, a victory for gun rights advocates.

According to a new poll, only about half of Republicans have great or moderate confidence in the Supreme Court’s handling of significant issues such as gun policy, abortion, elections and voting, and presidential power and immunity.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Supreme Court. And that’s unfortunate because it’s the ultimate decision, the ultimate check and balance in our three-branch government,” said Matt Rogers, a 37-year-old Republican from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Other Republicans share that distrust, though the court’s current composition is more conservative than any court in newfangled history. They are also divided on whether the justices are more ideologically or impartially guided — about half of Republicans say the justices are more likely to shape the law to fit their own ideology, while the other half say they are more likely to act as an independent check on their peers.

“I think they’re being influenced and pressured by a lot of people and a lot of entities on the left,” said Rogers, a health and wellness coach who plans to vote for Trump for a third time this year. “Let’s be honest. This is all about crucifying Trump.”

” READ MORE: Justice Clarence Thomas says he took three trips on a Republican donor’s plane last year

Some Republicans have less confidence in the court’s handling of specific issues than others. The poll found, for example, that about 6 in 10 Republican women have no confidence in the court’s handling of presidential power and immunity, compared with 45% of Republican men.

Janette Majors, a Republican from Ridgefield, Washington, said it was natural for a judge to reflect the ideology of the president who nominated him.

However, episodes outside the Supreme Court chambers caused her to lose confidence in those running the court.

“What you hear about Clarence Thomas traveling on wealthy people’s dime makes me think there are certain people out there I shouldn’t trust,” Majors said, referring, without justification, to reports that Thomas has for years received undisclosed expensive gifts, including travel, from Harlan Crow, one of the Republican Party’s biggest donors.

” READ MORE: Opinion | I was Justice Alito’s law clerk. He must refrain from considering cases involving Donald Trump.

Polling shows Democrats and independents are even more skeptical of the Court’s neutrality.

About 8 in 10 Democrats and about 7 in 10 independent Democrats say the justices are more likely to shape the law to fit their own ideology. Similar shares have little or no confidence in the court’s handling of abortion, gun policy and presidential power and immunity.

Michigan Democrat Andie Near noted that the court appeared to become a political tool in 2016 when then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow hearings for Barack Obama’s Democratic Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

McConnell quickly authorized hearings after Trump nominated Gorsuch within 10 days of taking office in 2017.

“I thought that the court, while it may tilt left or right, would serve the entire body of the country,” said the 42-year-old museum registrar from Holland, Michigan. “Then it made me realize that the Supreme Court was being used to tilt the political environment that we live in, and it has only gotten worse.”

The poll of 1,088 adults was conducted June 20-24, 2024, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

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