April 20th, 2010
04:45 PM ET
4 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. mike

    what a stupid question, of course he will.

    April 20, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Mark

    Questioned by telephone. That explains the bizarre results.

    April 20, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Mikey

    Of course he will. Not putting someone who is at least somewhat liberal on the court would cause a shift to the right, since Stevens was a liberal. The only question is: how liberal?

    April 20, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Duck Fallas

    To the American conservatives, anyone left of Hitler is a liberal, so yes, he will appoint a liberal.

    Then again, this is President Obama, he may appoint a fascist socialist muslim radical preacher latina czar.

    April 20, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. JR

    It doesn't matter who he nominates or what political leaning they might have, the GOP will slam whoever as a liberal and stonewall against them. Obama could name Colin Powell and the cons would fight against him.

    April 20, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Jerri in NM

    better be a liberal!!!!! Enough with the bipartisan stuff. Where has it gotten us?

    April 20, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Hud

    And just as with EVERYTHING else that this NoBama guy has done, it don't matter what the American public wants – it's what will put mo' money, mo' money, mo' money in his pocket (and that of his Chicago buddies)!

    April 20, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Terry from West Texas

    I nominate Bill Clinton for the job. He's a Yale Law School graduate, much smarter than anyone reading this blog (IQ-wise), and he has an incomparable resume. He understands the operation of federal and state government as a former president and governor. Also, he might be able to handle the five Republican Party hacks that are now a majority on the court.

    April 20, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. ib

    That's the only type person King Obama knows; the far left looney tune type. You are dreaming if you think he will go for any other type person.

    April 20, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. gt

    stupid question.... of course he will

    April 20, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. bennie new york

    I'd be happy so long as it's someone who won't vote Yes on unbridled corporate political funding and overturning the ban on animal cruelty videos. We need someone who knows that freedom of speech does not protect corruption and cruelty but rather the private citizen's desire to express themselves. Animal cruelty, being a crime, does not fit under that umbrella, nor do corporations deserve the same rights as the citizen.

    April 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Why shouldn't he? The activist Conservatives already have a majority and are ruling in favor of illegal animal fighting and big $ corporate elitists.

    April 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. conniesz

    Fortunately, this president doesn't appear to be influenced by polls – so here's hoping he picks a good old fashioned liberal with impeccable credentials and a blemish free life style.

    April 20, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. CitizenJP

    WIth 62% supporting for a liberal or moderate candidate versus 36% supporting conservative candidate, it is a no brainer advice to the President. Personally, I think in order to maintain the proper balance, he should appoint a liberal candidate similar to Justice Stevens.

    April 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. proud dem in nc

    He can name whoever he wants.!!!
    Bozo Bush nominated ultra conservatives to the bench, so why can Obama choose a liberal. Obama 2012!!!!!!!

    April 20, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. Gil

    The Robert's court needs to be neutralized. He better pick a liberal!

    April 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Sissy

    He has every right to nominate a Liberal if he wants......every president has picked according to their parties views......I'm all for a Liberal.....

    April 20, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Otto

    Yes he should name a liberal and that will keep a balance in the court. Since he took office, there have been enough hate, enough hilly billy, honkey stuff; every day there are articles against everything a Democrat does or even what they don't do.
    Same thing happen when Clinton was in office and I wonder how these people think.
    Given the eight years of Bush junior and the mess he leaves, how can they want to continue the messey agenda is beyond me.

    A Liberal, YES, 100%. Take that!

    April 20, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. keeth in California

    We elect people to govern, CNN, not polls.

    April 20, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Doug

    No matter who Pres. Obama nominates, the GOP will call him/her a liberal. SO go ahead and do it, at least earn the name.

    April 20, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Dave in Houston

    why wouldnt he????

    April 20, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Bryan

    Why is it we only give our President 2 terms in office but give Suprem Court Judges Life terms.
    It is like winning the lottery.
    It is not right and they to should only get 2 terms.

    The same with Congress only 2 terms so they can not have time to become totally CORRUPT like they are now.

    2 TERMS PERIOD

    April 20, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. jeff jackson, alabama

    If only one in four Americans want Obama
    to appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court
    then why in the heck did so many of them
    vote for him ?
    When it comes to people and their politics
    it just defies all logic.
    I'll bet we have the same incumbents in office
    after the next elections too .

    April 20, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Wayne

    Let's hope so.

    April 20, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Cosmo

    He has to, in order to counter balance the Roberts/Alito conservative judicial activist wing of the court that the country will have to endure for the next thirty years.

    April 20, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
1 2