Approval Ratings for Supreme Court Fall Following Healthcare Ruling

Sunday, 01 Jul 2012 01:31 PM

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Public opinion of the Supreme Court has grown more negative since the highly publicized ruling on the president’s healthcare law was released. A growing number now believe that the high court is too liberal and that justices pursue their own agenda rather than acting impartially.

A week ago, 36 percent said the court was doing a good or an excellent job. That’s down to 33 percent today. However, the big change is a rise in negative perceptions. Today, 28 percent say the Supreme Court is doing a poor job. That’s up 11 points over the past week.

The new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on Friday and Saturday following the court ruling, finds that 56 percent believe justices pursue their own political agenda rather than generally remain impartial. That’s up five points from a week ago. Just half as many — 27 percent — believe the justices remain impartial.

Thirty-seven percent (37 percent) now believe the Supreme Court is too liberal, while 22 percent think it's too conservative. A week ago, public opinion was much more evenly divided: 32 percent said it was too liberal and 25 percent said too conservative.

In the latest survey, 31 percent now believe the balance is about right.

The national survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted on June 29-30, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

As first noted in polling conducted Wednesday and Thursday, there has been a sizable partisan shift in perceptions of the high court.

A week ago, Republicans were generally positive about the court. Forty-two percent (42 percent) of GOP voters gave the justices good or excellent marks, while 14 percent said poor. Now, the numbers are strongly negative — 20 percent say good or excellent and 43 percent say poor.

Among Democrats, the numbers went from mixed to very positive. A week ago, 35 percent of those in the president’s party gave the high court positive reviews and 22 percent offered a negative assessment. Now, 50 percent are positive and only 11 percent give the high court negative marks.

As for those not affiliated with either major party, the positives remained unchanged at 31 percent. However, among unaffiliated voters, the number rating the court's performance as poor doubled from 14 percent a week ago to 30 percent today.

Among Political Class voters, positive ratings for the Supreme Court soared to 55 percent, compared to 27 percent a week ago.

Among Mainstream voters, the court’s ratings headed in the opposite direction. A week ago, 34 percent of Mainstream voters said the court was doing a good or excellent job and 17 percent gave it poor ratings. The numbers have now reversed — 22 percent positive and 36 percent negative.

Democrats are now fairly evenly divided as to whether justices pursue their own agenda or remain impartial. However, by lopsided margins, Republicans and unaffiliated voters believe that they pursue their own agenda.

In March, just before oral arguments on the healthcare law, only 28 percent gave the high court such positive ratings. Those were the lowest ratings ever earned by the court in more than eight years of polling by Rasmussen Reports. But those oral arguments convinced many that the president’s healthcare law might be overturned, and positive ratings for the court jumped 13 points to 41 percent.

In his weekly syndicated newspaper column, Scott Rasmussen contends that the Supreme Court ruling keeps the healthcare law on life support. “But it's important to remember that the law has already lost in the court of public opinion," he writes. "The Supreme Court ruling is a temporary reprieve more than anything else”

Most voters had wanted the court to overturn the healthcare law and uphold the Arizona immigration law. The court ruled in the opposite way on both issues. Most voters continue to favor repeal of the president’s healthcare law.

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