Thursday, October 13, 2011

Supreme Court Heading for Fateful Year

Decisions the U.S. Supreme Court makes this year will dramatically affect public policy, could help decide the presidential election and will likely alter the Court’s reputation with the American people.

As the Court begins its 2011-2012 term, public approval of the Court has dropped 15 points since a recent high of 61 percent (2009).  Support among Democrats has dropped 29 percent during the same period, no doubt due to President Obama’s high-profile criticism of the Court’s decision on campaign finance.

Part of the Court’s decline in approval reflects the near across the board drop in approval and trust in major institutions, especially those associated with the national government. 

Although a plurality (42%) of the public believes the Court is about right in its ideological leanings, more of the remaining voters believe its leans left (31%) than leans right (20%).

The Court’s looming health care mandate decision could affect the 2012 presidential election and will clearly constrain or relax the perceived boundaries of federal legislation.  One party of the two parties is likely to be very unhappy with the decision.  The Court also may review controversial lower court cases over state authority related to illegal immigrants and college-level affirmative action.

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