With the Supreme Court’s 2007-08 session done for, the good folks at Quinnipiac University have turned the tables on the American people, and have let them do the deciding. The issue at hand: How has the High Court fared this year? In a poll released yesterday, 1,783 voters from across the country evaluated the decisions the Court has made, the issues that are most pressing and what they want to see in the future. The verdict: Call it a 5-4 decision. Of the survey respondents, 43 percent disapprove, with 39 percent dissenting.
But things get even more interesting when the questions start to delve a little deeper. By a 42-33 percent margin, Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the court, and a 31-25 margin tells us that America thinks the court is too conservative. The most telling statistic, however, might be the question regarding originalism vs. an evolving constitution. By a total of 52-40, Americans favor a constitutional interpretation that reflects changing times rather than original intent.
So what does all of this mean? The survey shows that the Court is losing favor with the American people: In May, 2007, 58 percent approved of the SCOTUS’ performance, and that number is down by almost 20 percent. So little by little, America is losing faith in one of its most venerated institutions. There may be a silver lining in that figure though -- perhaps Americans are truly beginning to pay attention to the troubling decisions the Court has produced since Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito took the bench. More encouraging is this number: 87 percent consider the president’s power to appoint justices to be a “very important” or “somewhat important” issue when making a decision at the polls. Hopefully, this is one statistic that will ring true in November.