April 20th, 2010
04:45 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Will Obama name a liberal to Supreme Court?

A majority of Americans expect President Obama to appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court.
A majority of Americans expect President Obama to appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court.

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans expect President Obama to appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court, but only one in four want that to happen, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that 61 percent of the public expect the president to nominate a liberal to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, 21 percent said the president will name a moderate and 16 percent predicted that Obama will nominate a conservative.

Full results (pdf)

But only a quarter of those questioned said the president should nominate a liberal, with 37 percent saying they want Obama to name a moderate and 36 percent pulling for a conservative candidate.

The poll's release comes one day before the president hosts Senate Democratic and Republican leaders at the White House to discuss the vacancy on the high court. Among the participants in the meeting will be the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will most likely hold confirmation hearings this summer.

Stevens, who turns 90 Tuesday, announced earlier this month that he would retire from the high court at the end of this session. Stevens is considered the leader of the liberal block of the court.

"If Obama appoints a liberal, that is likely to be seen as a way to shore up support in his own party," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But only 46 percent of Democrats want him to choose a liberal; 34 percent of Democrats want a moderate nominee and one in five want a conservative."

Not surprisingly, more than six in ten Republicans questioned in the survey want a conservative nominee, with three in ten saying they want the president to nominate at moderate and only 9 percent calling for Obama to choose a liberal.

One issue that is certain to come up at confirmation hearings is abortion. The survey indicates that 21 percent now say abortion should be legal in all circumstances.

"That's the lowest that number has been since 1985," Holland said.

Another 13 percent said abortion should be legal in most circumstances, and 42 percent said that should be the case in only a few circumstances. Just over one in five indicate abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted April 9-11, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Extra • President Obama • Supreme Court
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. once upon a horse

    President Obama could choose a far right white male conserative that would make Rush Limbaugh look like a liberal, and the Republicans would STILL find something wrong with him. In other words it really doesn't matter. God forbid he chooses an African-American male or female for the court because no matter how qualified they may be it would called a "racist pick" even though it's ok for the other 43 to have picked some of their own. If he goes liberal better be ready for a long drawn out fight from the right and more ratings boosting for the wing-nut talk show hosts and FauxNews.

    April 20, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Ancient Texan

    Does a bear.......? Of coarse he will. He'd hardly nominate a conservative that would vote against him.

    April 20, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The GOP wants Sarah or Todd Palin for the justice job, they have all the qualifications they require.

    April 20, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. Us Dems for Obama

    ...."The majority (61%) of Americans do not want a liberal"......SO WHAT! Since when did this President do anything that the majority of Americans want! And some of you libs say ...."well, why did the people who voted for him, actually vote for him? And the answer is; because he lied.....he pretended to be a moderate! I for one will never vote for him if he ever runs again.....and yes, I think you will see for the first time in history.....a sitting president decline to run for a second term....why? Because he will know by then that he will be tremendously embarassed with such an overwhelming loss. To have this many "anti Obama" voters at this time, rest assured the number will only grow. Why? Because he is arrogant and thinks he can trample on the liberties of this nation and get away with it. Good bye Obama!

    April 20, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. Broad

    Are you kidding me. Or course, he will nominate another radical like himself. He is bent on destroying most of what our framers intended. After all he fashions himself as ALL KNOWING.

    April 20, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    He better. The court needs to be balanced after the right win g nut jobs appointed by Bush. I doubt he will though. He has been a disappointment to liberals everywhere so far.

    April 20, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. j

    He needs to nominate someone to offset the radical right on the court. The Roberts' court is a sham.

    April 20, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. NVa Native

    We need balance on the Supreme Court.
    Obama needs to seat two liberals to balance the evil that is Scalia.

    April 20, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. ran

    I can only hope so.

    And one who likes dogs.

    April 20, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Cole

    The last seven confirmed appointees ALL fell to the right of their predecesors. JP Stevens would tell you he was conservative except that the court had moved to his right making him a liberal by comparison.

    This candidate should be strong left, not just moderate left.

    April 20, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  11. Allen in Hartwell GA

    If I had my druthers I'd like to see a moderate on the court. But in order to counter-balance the right-wingers we need a liberal.
    Maybe we could have all 9 of them retire at once and appoint all moderates.

    April 20, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  12. Lori in St Pete

    I hope so, but I'm not betting the farm on it.

    April 20, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  13. Danny Cali

    Who care Liberal or conservative is American same thing they eat same hamburger and drink same soda, but the thing is just get out of the Party of "NO" that it.

    April 20, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  14. Charles Harold

    OBAMA, PLEASE SELECT A LIBERAL!!! That would make a couple in there. Stevens was NOT a liberal; he was a centrist, selected by Ford (also something of a centrist). This of course, shows how the court (among other things–including the media–but not everything) has moved rightward. I want the next justice to be not only liberal but MARKEDLY so.

    April 20, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  15. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    A telephone poll. Which leaves out most of Obama's supporters whom have cell phones.

    President Obama is brilliant, he will choose wisely. I am wiling to bet that he will choose a moderate.

    April 20, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. disgusted

    I certainly hope so. A real one. Not a moderate who says they are liberal.

    April 20, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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