April 21st, 2010
12:38 PM ET
13 years ago

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/20/art.scotusth.gi.jpg caption="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. Joyce in South Carolina

    President Obama was elected to make these decisions. The American public does deserve an opinion, but it is simply an opinion. I, for one, trust President Obama to make the right decision.

    April 21, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Of course he will. The Dems know nothing but liberalism, and give away social programs, that do nothing but bleed the middle class.

    April 21, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. Todd

    The problem in the wording of this poll is the use of the terms liberal and conservative. When you poll people on their specific political beliefs, you find that most Americans are moderate / liberal. When you ask them are you liberal or conservative, many who are actually moderate or liberal will self identify as conservative.

    It is just like conservatives today throwing around the words socialist, fascist, communist. They can use them without everyone dismissing them as kooks because most people have no idea what those words actually mean.

    April 21, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. haren

    With fox news lies and uninformed public, who is too busy watching sports rather than what is going on in this country, tells us that this poll has no meaning.

    April 21, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  5. curious steve

    yeah we the people believe what CNN pollsters say we the people think, LOL.

    April 21, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  6. leadfoott2

    Obama won't listen. He obviously doesn't give a rip about what the American people think. He only cares about advancing the ideology he inherited from Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayres.

    April 21, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  7. Michele

    One would hope that the President ignores polls of 1000 people and chooses a new Justice based on their qualifications, nor their politics.

    April 21, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. larry

    so when has a president cared about a stinking poll to select a supreme court nominee? this is a stupid story and a dumb poll

    April 21, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. Dimslie

    Yeah, I want the same thing but, that's not how it works in this country. You vote for a President and then you have to put up with him and his ideas for 4 years. Maybe next time a few less people will make such an important decision based on someone promising them something as ill-defined as "change".

    April 21, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  10. charles

    These pollsters and these Americans are idiots, Forever a liberal president nominates a liberal, a conservative nominates a conservative. Thats how it works and it is not changing

    April 21, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. Terry from West Texas

    Moderates are people who want to split the difference on everything. When given a choice between solving a problem and not solving it, the Moderate chooses to halfway solve it. Give the scientists half as much money as they need to discover the vaccine. Provide nutritional meals to half of the poor children. Put half as many Border Patrolmen on the border as are needed to prevent illegal immigration.

    The Moderates want to split the difference between what Conservatives want and what Liberals want, thinking that this is somehow wisdom. They believe in nothing and they sway with every breeze. They're for the war when it starts and against the war when it continues. On the Titanic, a Moderate captain would have launched half of the lifeboats so as to save the other half for later.

    April 21, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. Marie MD

    And make sure he talks to Bo before picking someone who doesn't care about animal rights!

    April 21, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. kyle from ohio

    Sure the polls say that, which 1008 people did you ask ???

    April 21, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Gary

    Jesus really .. stop taking polls they are silly and mean nothing .. i.e. FOX non-news polls .. read one those sometime .. example "when killing someone do you a) use a knife b) a gun c) a hammer or d) no opinion .. that's FOX for you ... when will people except the fact that polls are basis depending on what non-news channel they are coming from and most people are working and not just playing on the web taking polls .. well except FOX fans

    April 21, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    I certainly hope he avoids appointing a conservative corporate shill, and chooses a moderate or a liberal.

    April 21, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. jp,michigan

    Obama should choose someone who actually believes in the constitution. Obama supposably taught constitutional law, but I want to know from which country. Surely it wasn't the American constitution, or he would be representing the American people, not his socialistic agenda!

    April 21, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  17. Elliot in texas

    So the majority of the country rejects having another conservative appointed to the court. Sounds about right to me.

    April 21, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  18. Adalbert

    Nonsense. We need a progressive in that antiquated court. It is time for them to join the 21st century.

    April 21, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. Jim

    But moderates are liberals, according to conservatives.

    April 21, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Polls continue to show that the populace is not well informed. They want no regulations on TBTF, but then report that they want to reign in Wall Street. They think that Obama wants to take away their guns, but he signed a law to let the insecure carry them in national parks. Obama lowered taxes for 95% of Americans, but the right wingnuts believe that was a tax increase.

    April 21, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. Wayne

    This poll brought to you by the American's for a Conservative Government.

    April 21, 2010 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. R

    These polls are such a ruse. What poll is this one? I didn't vote in it. Unless you're polling every single citizen, what's the use? Who cares what a small sampling of people say? If this Country could try and work together maybe we'd have something. Everyone, nowadays, thinks their voice is sooooo very important that they have to let everyone else know their every thought. Well, the majority of this Country voted in President Obama, so let him do his job. Obviously he has a liberal so do you really think he's going to select a right wing judge? Would bush have selected a liberal judge? We had to put up with eight long years of bush, so why not act like an American and demonstrate if you don't like things, but these nut job right wing terrorists have to go. As you people used to tell the world in the 60's and 70's "Love it or leave it". Oh, yeah, if you leave, take your guns with you.

    April 21, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. RF-NJ

    The more liberal the better!

    April 21, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. Pete

    I hope he names a liberal. Why shouldn't he? Would you have expected Bush (or any Republican) to name anyone but a conservative?

    April 21, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. Sbburris

    What worries me is that judges are allowed to be liberal or conservative. I mean the law is the law why does it need to be defined by their personal beliefs. That is why the American public is so fed up with judges, gov't officials, and wall street. Instead of doing what is best for the people they only do what best in their own opinion, or for them. This is getting old!!!

    April 21, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
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