CNN Poll: Judging the Supreme Court
June 20th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Poll: Judging the Supreme Court

Washington (CNN) - As the Supreme Court gets ready to issue opinions on some high profile and contentious cases, a new national poll indicates Americans are split on whether the high court is doing a good job.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday morning, 48% of the public say they approve of the job the Supreme Court's doing, with an equal amount saying they disapprove.

There is, however, an ideological divide. Fifty-three percent of liberals and 58% of moderates, but only 37% of conservatives, say that they approve of the court.

"That's probably a reaction to last year's decision on Barack Obama's health care law," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

In a closely watched ruling, the court upheld the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, last June.

"Before that ruling, most conservatives supported the Supreme Court, compared to only 44% of liberals. Now, most liberals approve of the court, with most conservatives saying they disapprove," adds Holland.

All that may change over the next week as the Supreme Court releases opinions on affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and the Voting Rights Act, cases that are sure to generate fresh controversy.

The case involving affirmative action is Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin. Abigail Fisher individually sued the flagship state university after her college application was rejected in 2008 when she was a high school senior in Sugar Land, Texas. Fisher claims she was turned away in part because she is white, despite being more qualified than some minority applicants. The school defends its policy of considering race as one of many factors, such as test scores, community service, leadership and work experience, to ensure a diverse campus.

According to the poll, nearly seven in ten disapprove of affirmative action admissions programs at colleges and law schools that give racial preferences to minority applicants, with 29% saying they disagree.

There's an obvious partisan divide, with 49% of Democrats, 24% of independents, and just 14% of Republicans approving of such affirmative action programs. And there's a racial gap, with 51% of non-white respondents but just 19% of white respondents saying they approve of giving preferences to minority applicants.

Also in front of the Supreme Court is the Voting Rights Act, which was passed in 1965 to prevent some state and local governments from using rules and procedures which prevented many black Americans from voting. The key enforcement provision of the measure was reauthorized in 2006 for another 25 years, with all or parts of 16 states covered under the "pre-clearance" provision.

A county in Alabama subsequently filed suit, saying the federal monitoring of their election procedures was overly burdensome and unwarranted. The case before the high court is called Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.
The survey indicates the public is evenly divided over whether the Voting Rights Act is still necessary, with 48% saying yes and 50% saying no. There's a slight racial gap and a larger partisan divide.

There are two same-sex marriage cases in front of the Supreme Court.

At issue in Hollingsworth v. Perry is whether the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment guarantee of "equal protection" prevents states from defining marriage as being only between one man and one woman. The case involves California's Proposition 8, a statewide ballot measure that banned same-sex marriages in the Golden State, which California's Supreme Court had previously ruled were legal.

According to the poll, 55% of Americans support same-sex marriage, with 44% opposed. The 55% support is up 11 percentage points from 2008.

"In the 1970s, when polls first tackled this touchy topic, a majority of Americans believed that homosexual relationships between consenting adults were morally wrong, a belief that persisted into the 1990s and the first few years of the 21st century," says Holland. "But three years ago, the number who felt that homosexual relationships were morally wrong began to drop below 50%, and currently 54% of the public says that homosexual relationships are not a moral issue. Not surprisingly, that shift in opinion coincided with a growth in support for same-sex marriage."

The other case is Windsor v. U.S.. At issue is whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment's due process clause as applied to same-sex couples legally married under the laws of their states.

The case involves Edith "Edie" Windsor, who was forced to assume an estate tax bill much larger than those other married couples would have to pay. Because her partner was a woman, the federal government did not recognize the same-sex marriage legally, even though their home state of New York did. The law known as DOMA defines marriage for federal purposes as a union between a man and woman only.

The legal issue is whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry.

According to the poll, 60% say the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages performed in states that allow them, with 39% saying they disagree.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. davecu

    I think they blew it on the voter ID thing.
    American citizens should have the right to know that ALL who participated in an election have the right to do so.
    In a less PC country that would be self evident.

    June 20, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Pete

    These SCOTUS justices are jokes and that's being polite..They are poor examples of people held in such high esteem and how they flaunt their power showing their arrogence even publicly against someone even of Pres.Obamas position being seen not agreeing with statements being made during the last presidencial address being televised ..There justices are supposed to be unbiased,nonpartisan but after Pres.Obamas inaugeration have done just the opposite in voting along party lines for all supreme court decisions except one the ACA ruling justice Roberts voted on against his party making the ACA the law of the land ..SCOTUS has lost as far as I'm concerned all credibility ,respect just because of that fact that they've been going against our first africanamerican president in Mr.Obama publicly and doing nothing to change their looks or their attitudes toward their Commander in Chief,their boss!!As far as I'm concerned they should be run off from their positions of justices and term limits like what presidents have should be implimented,plain and simple ,no lifers in the SCOTUS anymore period!!

    June 20, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. USAPeasant

    Between calling Obamacare a Tax on Life and ruling that corporations are people in Citizens United, plus the fact the Court refuses to hear any of the cases involving the tyranny laws of Patriot Act, NDAA, and NDRP, I would say its pretty safe to say that the current Supreme Court has lost almost every shred of credibility. Luckily though most of these ideologically corrupt justices are getting old and will retire soon, so maybe there is some hope.

    June 20, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. scarf

    A True Conservative

    rs – anti voter laws? You mean laws that require that you prove that you are a citizen of this country and have the RIGHT to vote? Those laws? Only a liberal mind would see that as anti voter.
    I know of no one (liberal, conservative, or otherwise) who believes non-citizens should have the right to vote. The issue is setting up barriers to prevent citizens with whom you disagree from voting (e.g. a poll tax) Requiring an ID is fine, but it can't be set up so as to prevent anyone from getting one (cost, availability, time limitations on when to get one, etc.) It's like telling gun-owners that the Second Amendment means you get to bear arms, but you must pay an exorbitant tax (say $1000/yr/gun) to do so.

    June 20, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Tannim

    Of course SCOTUS is doing a bad job, for one simple reason–they can't read the plain language of the Constitution and do not understand the fundamental principles. As such they get roughly 90% of the rulings wrong. When they get back to the Constitutional basics of putting individual rights above government powers, limiting the federal government, not deferring to Congress on everything (since Congress is just as stupid, if not more!), using plain English and clear common-sense logic, and quit with the legal gymnastics like we had with ACA, maybe we'll get somewhere back towards the constitutionally-limited republic our Founding Fathers gave us. Right now, the government is doing its best to make Dr. Franklin's prediction of not keeping it come true, and that needs to change.

    June 20, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. Name Bernat Beckman

    Regarding MARRIAGE:
    The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights, GUARANTY the American People our Inalian Rights, Legal Rights and protection under the law from persecution by an intrusive government.

    If you believe in God as many Americans do, the human race began with a man a woman. If you believe in natural selection, you know the ONLY two tenants of Human Survival and all life on earth is REPRODUCTION and SURVIVAL.

    Marriage, whether under God or in Nature, has been the Joining of Man and Woman from the beginning of time. To call anything else Marriage is a lie and a hoax.

    Marriage is taken!!!!!!

    The 'persuit of happiness' does not allow any person to vicerate MARRIAGE. Nor does it allow you to hide behind the word marriage to mislead.

    Form your own relationships, partnerships, et all under the rule of law. Label, define and persue your happiness with out attacking the only definition of marriage under God and Nature.

    Name it. Embrace it. Be proud of it.

    Leave the ninety plus percent of Americans and all the world's people alone.

    June 20, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    john roach

    Gay should have no rights .its against. god law he made man and women. they should get nothing.

    if this wasn't so stupid (and grammatically wrong) it would be funny. unfortunately this person really thinks this...pitiful

    June 20, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. MeanOldMan

    The worst court in my lifetime. The ethics of Scalia and Thomas wouldn't survive in most district courts but the SCOTUS plays by its own rules. They are a disgrace to the bench and the country.

    June 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    A True Conservative

    rs – anti voter laws? You mean laws that require that you prove that you are a citizen of this country and have the RIGHT to vote? Those laws? Only a liberal mind would see that as anti voter.
    Like I said, voter fraud at the boot is a voter registration issue. Requiring special ID amounts to a poll tax.

    Read the Voting rights act sometime. The intent of the Voter ID laws is irrelevant, which renders your entire argument moot. Arguing about the intent of the law is blah, blah, blah is a waste of time. The VRA is cleverly worded to make intent irrelevant.

    It makes it clear that the if effect of a law is voter suppression, then the law is unconstitutional. The law only considers the effects on the voting population, regardless of the intent of a state law.

    June 20, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Oh For Pete's Sake!

    There's only ONE relevant fact pertaining to the SCOTUS..................................They've been bought and paid for by Obama.

    June 20, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Freedom Storm

    The country is split on the Supreme Court because the Court is split ... some base decisions on the Constitution ... some push their genetically mutant liberal mind "having thoughts" button.

    June 20, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. David O

    Whenever I see a discussion concerning the popularity of the Supreme Court or one of its decisions, I am always reminded of a quote from Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson in his concurring opinion in Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443 (1953). There he said

    "Whenever decisions of one court are reviewed by another, a percentage of them are reversed. That reflects a difference in outlook normally found between personnel comprising different courts. However, reversal by a higher court is not proof that justice is thereby better done. There is no doubt that if there were a super-Supreme Court, a substantial proportion of our reversals of state courts would also be reversed. We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final."

    The second and last sentences pretty much sum up the Supreme Court and its decisions.

    June 20, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "They've been bought and paid for by Obama."

    Just go with "Derp" from now'll save you time typing.

    June 20, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Sniffit

    "Marriage, whether under God or in Nature, has been the Joining of Man and Woman from the beginning of time"

    Which, of course, was 6,000 years ago, right?

    June 20, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Fair is Fair

    "First of all, illegals are not voting because they shouldn't be able to register in the first place. Besides, what's wrong with presenting your voter registration card. Here in New York, your signature is on file. Again, it all goes back to the voter registration process. Besides, requiring people to go out and purchase state issued photo ID amounts to a poll tax, which is most definitely illegal in any state."
    First of all, you do realize the Arizona law that the SCOTUS shot down was to provide ID for voter registration, right? Second, all states that passed any voter ID law included that the ID would not need to be "purchased" for the reason you state, right?

    June 20, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. JG11

    The Supreme Court is supposed to be a separate and equal part of our system... Because they do not rule in favor of Obama is not a critical point. Obama showed zero respect for the Court at a State of the Union address at few years ago; so what does one expect? The problem with Court (the way it has been handled in modern times) is Congress (actually the Senate) must confirm justices nominated by the president, and they tend to confirm people who support their views.... thus you get a stacked Court in one direction or the other. This is simply the way it is....

    June 20, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. MMAN


    A True Conservative
    rs – anti voter laws? You mean laws that require that you prove that you are a citizen of this country and have the RIGHT to vote? Those laws? Only a liberal mind would see that as anti voter.

    When people register to vote, they have already established that they have the right to vote. I don't know about everywhere else, but in KY if your name is in that little book at the polling place that has names of all registered voters in that precinct, then that person should be able to vote without interference because again, they have already established they have the right to vote when they registered at the courthouse. However, if there is another way that people can go into a polling station without their names being in the book as a registered voter, then something then needs to be done I admit.

    June 20, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. SeattleMM

    Politicians in robes. When they appointed Bush to the Presidency in 2000, they lost their credibility forever.

    June 20, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    First of all, you do realize the Arizona law that the SCOTUS shot down was to provide ID for voter registration, right? Second, all states that passed any voter ID law included that the ID would not need to be "purchased" for the reason you state, right?
    First, the Arizona law required that ID be presented at the polling place. I am not aware of the AZ law having anything to do with voter registration.
    Second, requiring that people go obtain them has a cost associated with it. Besides, when the state requires you to obtain it from a DMV office, and then significantly reduces the hours of operation for those offices, that looks bad. When the law requires that 700,000 people go out and obtain IDs, but the state reduces the budget to produce only 30,000 of them, that looks bad. The preceding is exactly what the State of Pennsylvania did to its' residents.

    June 20, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. Debbie

    Citizens United was it for me. Next to the Dred Scott decision this is the worst decision ever from SCOTUS. I've given up on what was once a democratic representative republic. Democracy is nil to none. Representation is determined by wealth. Our Republic is no longer a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizen. Thus we are no longer a democratic representative republic.

    June 20, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Eli

    The thing about that is of course that the constitution isn't a matter of popular opinion. The SCOTUS isn't designed to win a popularity contest. It's designed to protect the constitution.

    On that note: of course republicans hate that.

    June 20, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Steveo


    Politicians in robes. When they appointed Bush to the Presidency in 2000, they lost their credibility forever
    If Gore had won his OWN state, Florida would not have matter as much. Tennessesse did not even want him!

    June 20, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Pam from Iowa

    Roberts is a puppet for the GOP.
    My opinion of the SC dropped 80% when GW appointed him as Chief Justice.
    How anyonce can believe that a corporation should have the same rights as a person is kookoo for Cocoa Puffs!!

    June 20, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Chambers said in his apology. "More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God's rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their live
    It is about time somebody apologized for marginalizing people in the name of God.
    Bravo Rev. Chambers.
    I only wish the Catholic church would deign to do likewise.

    June 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. WestsacVoice

    Looking at the responses to this article, I wonder if we would have ever gotten a constitution written and gotten our act together to kick the British out. We are a DIVIDED nation. It is not that we are diverse or a melting pot anymore we are becoming polarized and intolerant and angry with each other.

    June 20, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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