View of Supreme Court rebounds

Greg Nash

The Supreme Court's favorability rating has rebounded after falling to a near all-time low last year following a pair of decisions on the controversial issues of gay marriage and voting rights. 

According to a Pew Research poll released Tuesday, 56 percent of the public have a favorable view of the court compared to 35 percent who have an unfavorable view. 

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Last July, the court's favorability stood at 48 percent, the first time its rating had fallen below 50 percent since Pew first began surveying the high court in the 1980s.

The sharpest rebound came from black respondents. Black approval of the court plummeted nearly 20 points last year, shortly after the Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect against discrimination. 

Sixty-one percent of blacks now have a favorable view of the court — back near its previous level after falling to 44 percent last year. 

President Obama and a number of Democrats blasted the court’s decision last June, which found the criteria requiring a number of mostly Southern states to receive preclearance from the federal government before enacting voting changes had become outdated. The justices left an avenue for Congress to update the requirements, but legislation has not advanced ahead of the midterm elections.

Also last June, the court ruled that the portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.

The court has seen a rebound among all parties. Favorability among Democrats is at 63 percent, up from 54 percent. Republican support stands at 54 percent, up from 48 percent. And independent support is up to nearly the same level after dropping to 47 percent last year. 

The poll was conducted before the court's ruling this week that upheld the right of a New York town to hold prayer ahead of government meetings even though they were predominately given by Christian clergy. Pew notes a number of other controversial decisions are expected this year that could move the polls again, including a ruling on the constitutionality of the healthcare law's contraceptive mandate. 

The poll surveyed 1,501 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.