Poll: Chief Justice Roberts’s standing falls sharply among GOP

Americans have a more unfavorable view of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts than they did seven years earlier, according to a new poll, which finds his support among Republicans, in particular, having eroded sharply.

A Gallup poll released Monday found that Roberts's favorables dropped 11 percentage points among all Americans since the last survey in September 2005. The most recent polling showed Roberts with 39 percent of national adults having a favorable opinion of him. In 2005, the same poll found that 50 percent of adults had a favorable view of the chief justice. 

Among Republicans, Roberts's drop has been more drastic. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Roberts in 2005, a figure which plummets 40 points to 27 percent in the 2012 survey. Four percent had an unfavorable view of the chief justice in 2005, jumping to 44 percent in the new poll.

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While the poll does not identify how much of the shift in Roberts's numbers are a result of his recent opinion upholding much of President Obama's healthcare reform bill, his decision to join the four more liberal members of the high court in saving the law left him facing strong criticism from conservatives.

The poll also found that Roberts's unfavorables among all Americans had increased by 12 percentage points. In 2005, Roberts's unfavorables were at 17 percent compared to 29 percent in the 2012 poll.

Roberts's has gained among Democrats, with 54 percent saying they have a favorable view of Roberts in the 2012 survey, up from 35 percent in 2005. The percentage of Democrats who held an unfavorable view of Roberts decreased as well: 19 percent of Democrats said they had an unfavorable view in 2012, down from 39 percent in 2005.

Roberts also lost ground among independents. In 2012, 38 percent of independents said they had a favorable view while 28 percent said they had an unfavorable view. In 2005, 47 percent had a favorable view, while 17 percent had an unfavorable view.

Roberts's decision to rule in favor of the healthcare reform law surprised many on the right, who had predicted that Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the deciding vote and that Roberts would side with his fellow justices on the right in striking down the legislation, in particular the individual mandate. 

Instead, the conservative Roberts sided with the liberal members of the Supreme Court while Kennedy sided with the three conservative associate justices in his dissent.

The poll was conducted July 9 to 12 and has a 4-point margin of error.