Court Battles

Confidence in Supreme Court is at lowest level in 50-year recorded history, Gallup poll finds

U.S. Capitol Police are seen outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 as the court finishes up its term which includes an opinion that could strike Roe v. Wade.
Greg Nash
U.S. Capitol Police are seen outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 as the court finishes up its term which includes an opinion that could strike Roe v. Wade.

The American people’s confidence in the Supreme Court is at its lowest level ever recorded, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. 

The poll found that only a quarter of Americans have confidence in the court, dropping 11 points from its mark of 36 percent recorded last year. The most recent figure is 5 percentage points lower than the previous lowest point, which was recorded in June 2014. 

Gallup has tracked the percentage of confidence that Americans have in the court since 1973. Gallup’s analysis states that many institutions have seen a fall in the level of confidence from the public, but the court’s decline is about double what most other institutions have seen. 

The results come as the court appears poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights. A leaked draft opinion in the spring showed that five conservative justices on the court — three of them nominated by former President Donald Trump — are ready to overturn the ruling.

The ruling, in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is expected to be released as soon as the court’s term comes to an end. 

Gallup found in September that the court’s approval rating had dropped 9 percentage points to 40 percent, also a record low. This poll was taken in the aftermath of the court declining to block a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but before the draft opinion in Dobbs leaked. 

In the recent poll, public confidence dropped most significantly in the past year among Democrats and independents. Confidence dropped by 17 points to 13 percent among Democrats and by 15 points to 25 percent among independents. The percentage of Republicans who expressed confidence rose 2 points, to 39 percent. 

The number for Democrats and independents is the lowest Gallup has measured in the history of this poll. 

Public confidence in the court has also seen a drop over an extended period of time. The average percentage of respondents who reported having confidence in the court was 47 percent from 1973 to 2006, but it has been 35 percent since 2006. 

Gallup’s analysis concludes that it is unclear if the court overturning Roe would overall harm its reputation further or improve it in the eyes of those who agree with the decision. 

“The public may have already taken the Supreme Court’s stance on the abortion issue into account, with its decision on the Texas law and the leaked draft majority opinion on the Mississippi law,” it states. “But an actual, rather than hypothetical or expected, decision may have more potency in shifting Americans’ views of the court.” 

The poll was conducted from June 1-20 with 1,015 adults. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Tags abortion rights Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization Donald Trump Gallup public confidence Roe v. Wade Supreme Court

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