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Rasmussen: Supreme Court Ratings Jump

Monday, 09 April 2012 11:34 AM

Just before the highly publicized hearing on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, ratings for the U.S. Supreme Court had fallen to the lowest level ever measured by Rasmussen Reports. Now, following the hearings, approval of the court is way up.

Forty-one percent of likely U.S. voters now rate the Supreme Court’s performance as good or excellent, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s up 13 points from 28 percent in mid-March and is the court’s highest rating in 2 1/2 years.

Nineteen percent still rate the court’s work record as poor, unchanged from last month.

It is impossible to know if the improved perceptions of the court came from the hearings themselves, President Obama’s comments cautioning the court about overturning a law passed by Congress, or from other factors. Approval of the court had fallen in three consecutive quarterly surveys prior to the healthcare hearings.

The partisan turnaround in views of the court is noticeable. Three weeks ago, 29 percent of Republicans gave the Supreme Court positive marks for its job performance; now that number has climbed to 54 percent. Similarly, among voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties, good or excellent ratings for the court have increased from 26 percent in mid-March to 42 percent now. Democrats’ views of the court are largely unchanged.

Among all voters, 28 percent now think the Supreme Court is too liberal, 29 percent say it’s too conservative, and 31 percent believe the ideological balance is about right. The number who view the court as too liberal is down five points from a month ago.

Most voters want the healthcare law repealed and 54 percent expect the Supreme Court to overturn it.

This national survey of 1,000 U.S. likely voters was conducted on April 6-7, 2012, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

The last time the court’s good or excellent ratings were in the 40s was in October 2009 when 43 percent ranked it that way. That was the start of the court’s first session with Justice Sonya Sotomayor, Obama’s first nominee to the high court. At that time, 58 percent of Democrats shared a positive view of the court’s performance, but just 33 percent of both Republicans and unaffiliated voters agreed.

Data released earlier showed that only 15 percent of voters think the high court puts too many limitations on what the federal government can do. Twice as many (30 percent) believe the Supreme Court does not limit the government enough. Forty percent say the balance is about right, while 15 percent more are undecided.

Forty-nine percent of Republicans still think the high court is too liberal, but that’s down from 56 percent three weeks ago. Unaffiliated voters are now more inclined to see the court as too conservative. But Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters all view the court as more balanced than they did in the previous survey.


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