Courts can be influenced by public opinion, polling analyst says

Polling and election analyst Henry Olsen said in an interview that aired Thursday on Hill.TV's "What America's Thinking" that public opinion can have an effect on court decisions. 

"It can because I think increasingly courts realize that they're playing a political role," Olsen told host Joe Concha on Wednesday. "They don't want to be either too far in front, or too far behind where public opinion is." 

"As we saw in the original ObamaCare case decided in 2012, [Chief Justice] John Roberts would prefer to defer these issues to popular will, as opposed to deciding them at the courts," he said. 

A new Hill-HarrisX survey released Thursday found that 58 percent of Americans said a Texas federal judge's ruling last month that ObamaCare is unconstitutional should stand. Forty-three percent of those polled said the ruling should be reversed and the law should stand. 

"So I do think, on the margin, public opinion is going to matter, but we don't even know when this case is going to be decided," Olsen said. "It could be decided in the middle of a presidential campaign, in which it's going to be much more contentious, or it could be decided well before that."

— Julia Manchester