Friday, March 29, 2013

Polarization Affects the Court

The current Supreme Court term is deciding a host of controversial cases at the moment the national trend of disapproval of government and polarized views appear to be affecting it.

Up until 2009, the Pew Poll reported the Court at 60 percent favorability or higher. Today, Pew registers it at 52 percent. It was in the low 50s all during 2012, with the health care case the highest profile and most partisan issue decided and the presidential race the main political context.

About half of Republicans (47%) are favorable towards the Court and 56 percent of Democrats.  It represents a 9-point increase for Republicans since the health care decision at the end of June 2012, but well below the 56 percent favorability prior to health care. Two-thirds of Democrats (64%) favored the Court last summer.

Most people believe the Court’s political philosophy is in the center of the road (40%), but liberal Democrats believe it is conservative (48%) and conservative Republicans believe it is liberal (45%). In fact, only 9 percent of conservative Republicans and only 15 percent of moderate to liberal Republicans believe the Court is conservative.
Although there are competing views from legal scholars, most believe the conservatives have dominated the modern court, especially due to swing votes usually breaking to the right of center.

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