April 21st, 2010
12:38 PM ET
10 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 • President Obama • Supreme Court
soundoff (327 Responses)
  1. Charley B.

    Why would he listen to the people? He and the corrupt political party he serves as puppet never has.

    April 21, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Joel Miller

    The court is staked in favor of very conservative ideas. Its time to balance things out with a leader that understands how people live and is willing to defend individual rights and liberties while protecting the minority. The President should make his choice based on who can fill that role the best over the next generation not on what polls say today.

    April 21, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. Ken

    Obama is a moderate/liberal.

    The Democrats are in power.

    so..why in the world would he put anyone on other than someone who is liberal like Stevens was? It would pretty much keep the court how it is now.

    April 21, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Lori

    Hope he picks the most liberal person he can find!

    April 21, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. CBR

    When will CNN give up polling and start reporting real news. After awhile it just gets boring and predictable.

    Let your writers shine.

    April 21, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    define "liberal."
    define "moderate."
    define "conservative."

    these definitions have become so twisted and misappropriated in current debate as to be unrecognizable from the same labels used just twenty years ago.

    I would like to see how the question was worded and asked, and who it was asked of.

    April 21, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Stephen F. Kline

    For goodness sake (and the sake of our democratic way of life), please pick a progressive, or at leasst a moderate with a modicum of gray matter. We don't need any more Court rulings like the one that took away a soverign citizen's right in favor of a corporation. The court right now is stacked in favor of letting the fox back in the henhouse so that we can have our pensions and national power ripped away from us once again and put in the pockets of a few greedy neocons

    April 21, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. CTSadler

    He should name a liberal in their late 30's to counteract the idiots the Bushes put in.

    April 21, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Mike

    CNN, do us a favor and stop polling people that don't exist or matter such as teabaggers.

    April 21, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Selah Brown

    No-body polled me...and I most definitely want a Liberal on the Court. It's okay to have some balance.

    April 21, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. republicans hate america

    i hope so. there are too many activists judges legislating from the bench right now for corporations

    April 21, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Conservative Democrat

    I think he should name a conservative. That way, they can make more great rulings like the recent one striking down campaign financing rules. I'm glad that rich people and large corporations are going to have an even bigger hand in running the country.

    April 21, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. KK

    He will chose the right person and make the right choice.

    April 21, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Bubba

    Just don't put one of those crazy Publicans on it. They're all into bondage-themed strip clubs and walkin' the Appalachian Trail and stuff. America doesn't need that kind of pervert anywhere near an elected office.

    April 21, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Dan, CA

    Liberal, conservative, what does it matter? You will be taxed to death because of the entitlements that congresses and presidents, democrat or republican, keep voting in. We're going broke and it won't matter. By the way, whatever happened to using the amendment process to change the constitution. That's how the constitution was set up – not the legislating from the bench process.

    April 21, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Alban

    If it goes against the what Americian want, then of course he will pick a liberal. Everything Obama has done since getting elected has gone against the will of the Americian people. Health care, cap and trade, big bank bailouts, the take over of General Motors, big government expansion, high unemployment. And all of this will be followed by huge tax increases to pay for this fiscal irresponsibility. But then, we did all want "CHANGE" and now that is what we get. Oh, how I miss Bush.

    April 21, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Bill

    What does it matter? Politicians don't listen to voters (their employers) anyway. Hopefully, they'll all learn better in the next election.

    April 21, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. Pam from Iowa

    I hope he does pick a liberal to help balance the court. The "scales of justice" need to be balanced – not leaning towards corporate influence as it stands today. It is such a national shame that GWBush's picks were based solely on favors owed.... Everyone knows how Chief Justice Roberts got his job!!! (lets see... go back to November 2000... Florida.....)

    April 21, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA

    We need another conservative, pro-business, anti-people judge like we need cancer and a brain tumor at the same time.

    April 21, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. josh

    the funny thing about liberal or conservative judges, is they are not suppose to be either. they are suppose to uphold the law and the constitution with a complete blind eye too either side of politics. i know that doesnt happen which is sad because are courts lose credibility.

    April 21, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. ted

    Polls schmolls. This poll could be accurate or inaccurate as to the opinion of the populace. What we don't know is how were the questions posed? I would think that the American people would want a person who would be fair in a constitutional manner. If you go too far left or too far right, no one will be happy. I would imagine that Obama will go down the middle and most people, even those paranoid lunatic rightwing nuts, would be OK with the choice.

    April 21, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Kathy

    It is only fair that Obama be allowed to name a liberal judge. After all, Bush named tow activist conservative judges. Fair is fair, the Democrats won the last election. This time we get to appoint the judges. Funny how conservatives only think a judge is "activist:' when they don't agree with them.

    April 21, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. andrew

    I urge the republicans not to behave in the same disgraceful manner that the democrats did when Justice Roberts was nominated. Roberts was clearly qualified for the court. In fact, supremely qualified. Yet democrats, including a certain Senator from Illinois, voted against him, on totally specious grounds.

    On the other hand, when Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an extreme ultra liberal was nominated by Clinton, only a handful of senators voted no.
    It was recognized by the republicans that she was qualified. With Sotomayer, the republicans behaved like democrats did, which was wrong. She too was qualified.

    April 21, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. wdrad

    This administration could care less what the majority of Americans want. Is all about pleasing the few while ignoring the many.

    April 21, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Dennis

    I don't care what Obama does. He isn't going to change the balance of power on this court. Thank God the Conservatives are young, and Obama will never get the chance to replace them.

    April 21, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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