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Supreme Court

Trend: Supreme Court Job Approval

Trend: Supreme Court Job Approval

Trend: As you know, our federal government is made up of three branches: an executive branch, headed by the president; a judicial branch, headed by the U.S. Supreme Court; and a legislative branch, made up of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. How much trust and confidence do you have at this time in the judicial branch headed by the U.S. Supreme Court -- a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all?

Trend: In general, do you think the current Supreme Court is too liberal, too conservative, or just about right?

Trend: Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one -- a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little? The U.S. Supreme Court


Over the past five years, do you think the Supreme Court has become more liberal, more conservative, or stayed about the same?

More
liberal

More
conservative

Stayed
the same

No
opinion

2010 Jul 27-Aug 1

36%

16

43

5

As you may know, Solicitor General Elena Kagan is the person nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Kagan serving on the Supreme Court, or not?

Yes, vote
in favor

No, not

No opinion

%

%

%

Elena Kagan
2010 Jul 27-Aug 1

46

36

18

2010 Jul 8-11

44

34

22

2010 May 24-25

46

32

22

Sonia Sotomayor

2009 Jul 17-19

55

36

9

2009 Jul 10-12

53

33

13

2009 May 29-31

54

28

19

Trend for other Supreme Court nominees

Samuel Alito

2006 Jan 20-22

54

30

16

2006 Jan 6-8

49

30

21

2005 Dec 9-11

49

29

22

2005 Nov 7-10

50

25

25

Harriet Miers

2005 Oct 21-23

42

43

15

2005 Oct 13-16^

44

36

20

John Roberts

2005 Sep 16-18 †

60

26

14

2005 Sep 8-11 †

58

27

15

2005 Aug 28-30

52

26

22

2005 Aug 5-7

51

28

21

2005 Jul 22-24

59

22

19

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

1993 Jun 18-21 ‡

53

14

33

Clarence Thomas

1991 Oct 14

58

30

12

1991 Oct 10-13

53

30

17

1991 Sep 13-15

54

25

21

1991 Aug 8-11

56

23

21

1991 Jul 11-14

52

17

31

Robert Bork

1987 Sep 1-13 • ♠

38

35

26

1987 Aug 24-Sep 2 •

31

25

44

^ Asked of a half sample

† WORDING: As you may know, John Roberts is a federal judge who has been nominated to serve as chief justice on the Supreme Court. Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Roberts serving as chief justice on the Supreme Court, or not?

‡ WORDING: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a federal judge who has been nominated by President Clinton to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Ginsburg serving on the Supreme Court, or not?

WORDING: Robert Bork is a federal judge who has been nominated by President Reagan to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Bork serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, or not?

♠ Gallup for Times Mirror

Would you like to see President Obama nominate a new justice who would make the Supreme Court -- [ROTATED: more liberal than it currently is, more conservative than it currently is] -- or who would keep the court as it is now?

More
liberal

More
conservative

Keep as
it is now

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2010 May 3-6

27

42

24

6

2009 May 7-10

28

41

26

5

George W. Bush
2005 Sep 26-28

30

33

29

8

2005 Jun 16-19

30

41

24

5

Which of the following best describes your view about whether the next Supreme Court justice is [RANDOM ORDER] -- do you think it is -- [RANDOM ORDER: essential that the next justice is (a woman/Hispanic/black), is it a good idea, but not essential, does it not matter to you, (or do you think it is) a bad idea]?

A. A woman

Essential

Good idea,
not essential

Doesn't
matter

Bad
idea

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2010 May 3-6

4

20

72

3

1

2009 May 7-10

6

26

64

3

1

2005 Oct 28-30

14

33

50

2

1

2005 Sep 26-28 ^

14

29

55

1

1

^ Asked of a half sample

B. Hispanic

Essential

Good idea,
not essential

Doesn't
matter

Bad
idea

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2010 May 3-6

1

12

76

9

1

2009 May 7-10

1

21

68

8

1

2005 Sep 26-28

3

23

69

4

1

C. Black

Essential

Good idea,
not essential

Doesn't
matter

Bad
idea

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2010 May 3-6

1

13

82

3

1

2009 May 7-10

1

21

74

3

1

2005 Sep 26-28

5

21

71

2

1

How closely are you following the news about Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all?

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely

Not
at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2009 Jul 10-12

14

39

27

19

1

2009 May 29-31

20

40

22

18

--

(Asked of a half sample) From what you know about Sonia Sotomayor, do you think she would be too liberal, too conservative, or just about right as a Supreme Court justice?

Too
liberal

Too
conservative

About
right

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

Sonia Sotomayor

2009 May 29-31 ^

28

3

48

20

Samuel Alito

2006 Jan 6-8 ^

6

29

49

15

John Roberts

2005 Aug 28-30

8

24

48

20

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

1993 Jun 18-21

14

4

47

35

Clarence Thomas

1991 Jul 11-14

7

20

46

27

^ Asked of a half sample

(Asked of a half sample) Based on what you have heard or read about her, do you think Sonia Sotomayor's views on important issues are in the mainstream or do you think they are too extreme?

Mainstream

Too extreme

No opinion

%

%

%

Sonia Sotomayor

2009 May 29-31 ^

49

30

21

Samuel Alito

2006 Jan 6-8 ^

52

30

19

2005 Nov 1

51

26

23

^ Asked of a half sample

Suppose all or most of the Democrats in the Senate oppose Alito's nomination. Do you think they would be justified -- or not justified -- in using Senate procedures, such as the filibuster, to prevent an up-or-down vote on his nomination?

Justified

Not justified

No opinion

2006 Jan 20-22

38%

48

15

Just your best guess, if Alito were confirmed to the Supreme Court, do you think he would -- or would not -- vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion?

Yes, would
overturn

No, would
not

No
opinion

2006 Jan 20-22

34%

44

21

2005 Nov 1 ^

38%

38

24

^ Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

How closely do you plan to follow the Senate confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito, which are scheduled to begin on Monday -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all?

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jan 6-8

18%

45

23

14

1

Suppose that after his confirmation hearings you were convinced Samuel Alito would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. If that were the case, would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Alito serving on the Supreme Court, or not?

Yes, vote in favor

No, not

No opinion

2006 Jan 6-8

34%

56

11

Next, as you may know, President Bush will soon announce another nominee to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Which of the following best describes your view about whether the next Supreme Court justice is [RANDOM ORDER] -- do you think it is -- [RANDOM ORDER: essential that the next justice is (a woman/someone who has experience judge/a conservative/someone who would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision), is it a good idea, but not essential, does it not matter to you, (or do you think it is) a bad idea]?

Someone who has experience as a judge

Essential

Good
idea, not
essential

Doesn't
matter

Bad
idea

No
opinion

2005 Oct 28-30

50%

36

11

2

1

A conservative

Essential

Good
idea, not
essential

Doesn't
matter

Bad
idea

No
opinion

2005 Oct 28-30

21%

24

32

20

3

Someone who would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion

Essential

Good
idea, not
essential

Doesn't
matter

Bad
idea

No
opinion

2005 Oct 28-30

16%

16

20

42

6

Regardless of how you think the Senate should vote, would you say you are pleased or disappointed with George W. Bush's choice of Harriet Miers as the nominee to the Supreme Court?

Pleased

Disappointed

No opinion

2005 Oct 21-23

40%

50

10

Based on what you have heard or read about Harriet Miers, do you think she is among the most qualified people who could serve on the Supreme Court, is she qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, but many others are more qualified, or is she not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court?

Among most
qualified

Qualified

Not
qualified

No
opinion

2005 Oct 21-23

20%

49

22

9

Do each of the following make you feel more positive or more negative toward Harriet Miers? [RANDOM ORDER]

2005 Oct 21-23
(sorted by "more positive")

More positive

More negative

No opinion

%

%

%

She was one of the first women to hold important positions in the legal community in Texas

76

16

8

She attends an evangelical Christian church

55

29

16

She has worked closely with George W. Bush for many years

44

52

4

She expressed opposition to abortion while running for office in 1989

41

52

7

She has never served as a judge

27

66

7

Her views on major issues are not known

23

70

7

Would you like to see President Bush -- [ROTATED: continue to support his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court (or) withdraw his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court]?

[ASKED OF A HALF SAMPLE]

Continue to
support

Withdraw
nomination

No
opinion

2005 Oct 13-16

46%

36

18

Now, turning to the Supreme Court. As you may know, after John Roberts is confirmed as Chief Justice, President Bush will soon announce ANOTHER nominee to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Would you like to see President Bush nominate a new justice who would make the Supreme Court -- [ROTATED: more liberal than it currently is, more conservative than it currently is] -- or who would keep the Court as it is now?

More
liberal

More
conservative

Keep as
it is now

No
opinion

2005 Sep 26-28

30%

33

29

8

2005 Jun 16-19

30%

41

24

5

How closely do you plan to follow the Senate confirmation hearings for John Roberts, which are scheduled to begin in September -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all closely?

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely

Not
at all

No
opinion

2005 Aug 28-30

18%

41

22

18

1

As you may know, senators will be asking John Roberts about his views on a variety of subjects. On what subjects would you most like to hear John Roberts' views during his confirmation hearings? [OPEN-ENDED]

2005 Aug 28-30

%

Abortion/Roe v. Wade/Women's right to choose

28

Minority rights/Civil rights

6

Economics

6

Gas/Oil prices

5

Judicial system reform/Supreme Court issues

5

Constitutional view

4

Gay marriage/Homosexual rights

4

Healthcare

4

Religious issues

3

War

3

Death penalty/Capital punishment

3

Morals/Family values

3

Crime

2

Education reform

2

Stem cell research

2

Terrorism

2

Foreign affairs

2

Affirmative action

2

His background (qualifications/integrity)

1

Immigration

1

Gun control

1

Privacy laws

1

Eminent domain

1

Other

14

Nothing

11

Everything

1

No opinion

19

Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses

Do you think John Roberts should -- [ROTATED: answer questions from the Senators about his views on specific issues such as abortion or affirmative action, (or should he) only answer questions from the Senators about his general judicial philosophy]?

[ASKED OF A HALF SAMPLE]

Specific
issues

Only judicial
philosophy

No
opinion

2005 Aug 28-30

55%

42

3

Suppose the upcoming confirmation hearings indicate that John Roberts is qualified and has no ethical problems. Do you think U.S. Senators would be justified -- or unjustified -- in voting against him if they disagree with his stance on current issues such as abortion or affirmative action?

[ASKED OF A HALF SAMPLE]

Justified

Unjustified

No opinion

2005 Aug 28-30

40%

54

6

Which do you think is more likely to occur during the Senate confirmation hearings for Roberts -- [ROTATED: a relatively easy process in which Republicans and Democrats come to an agreement, (or) a major fight between Republicans and Democrats that would drag on for a long time]?

Relatively
easy process

Major
fight

No
opinion

2005 Jul 22-24

42%

51

7

When the U.S. Senate holds hearings on the John Roberts nomination, do you think Senators should insist that he explain his views on abortion before confirming him, or should he be allowed to refuse to answer questions about abortion?

Insist he explain
his views

Allowed to
refuse to answer

No
opinion

2005 Jul 22-24

61%

37

2

If a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court favors keeping the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, in your view, should that alone disqualify that person from serving on the Supreme Court, or not?

ASKED OF A HALF SAMPLE

Yes, should

No, should not

No opinion

2005 Jul 22-24

13%

85

2

If a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court favors overturning the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, in your view, should that alone disqualify that person from serving on the Supreme Court, or not?

ASKED OF A HALF SAMPLE

Yes, should

No, should not

No opinion

2005 Jul 22-24

25%

72

3

As you may know, conservative and liberal groups have begun campaigns to influence the choice of who is picked to serve on the Supreme Court. These campaigns include advertisements and lobbying of Senators. Do you feel these campaigns will be helpful or harmful to getting the best person on the court?

Helpful

Harmful

No opinion

2005 Jul 7-10

39%

54

7

As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case regarding whether a monument to the Ten Commandments can be displayed on the grounds of state government buildings in Texas and Kentucky. Do you think the U.S. Supreme Court should -- or should not -- allow the state governments to display that monument?

Yes, should

No, should not

No opinion

2005 Jun 24-26

75%

23

2

2005 Feb 25-27 ^

76%

21

3

^ Asked of a half sample

WORDING: As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case regarding whether a monument to the Ten Commandments can be displayed on the grounds of the Texas state capitol building. Do you think the U.S. Supreme Court should -- or should not -- allow the state government to display that monument?

Suppose President Bush decides to nominate the person who he thinks is the best choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, but almost all the Democrats in the Senate oppose the nominee because they disagree with that person on important issues. Should President Bush -- [ROTATED: still nominate the person he thinks is best for the job, (or should he) nominate another well qualified person whom the Democrats find acceptable]?

Still nominate
the person he
thinks is best

Nominate
another
person whom
the Democrats
find acceptable

No
opinion

2005 Jun 16-19

46%

51

3

Suppose almost all the Democrats in the Senate oppose President Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court because they disagree with that person on important issues. Should the Democrats in the Senate -- [ROTATED: still vote to confirm the president's nominee unless they believe that the person is not qualified legally or ethically, (or should they) work to defeat the nomination to try to get the president to pick someone that is more acceptable to them]?

Vote to confirm
president's nominee

Work to defeat
the nomination

No
opinion

2005 Jun 16-19

40%

53

7

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