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With the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of the 2010 healthcare reform bill looming—and with many different outcomes possible—we decided to ask voters how they feel about the court itself:

Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. 6/14-17. Registered voters. MoE ±3.1% (no trendlines):

Q: Since 2000 do you think the Supreme Court has become more partisan, less partisan, or stayed about the same?

More partisan: 56
Less partisan: 9
About the same: 31
Not sure: 4

The year 2000, of course, at the time set a new high-water mark for naked partisanship on the part of the Supreme Court, with its infamous "one-time-use-only" ruling in Bush v. Gore. Yet since then, most Americans feel the court has only become even more partisan. Unsurprisingly, Democrats are most apt to feel this way, with 62% saying that the SCOTUS has grown more partisan. Numbers among independents are almost identical, something we rarely see: 60% feel the same way. Meanwhile, only 48% of Republicans agree. By the same token, only 51% of self-described conservatives pull the "more partisan" lever while 69% of liberals do.

These crosstabs suggest that Americans are indeed aware of the court's rightward drift over the past decade. And the topline numbers indicate that quite a lot of voters are prepared to regard any decision the court makes on healthcare reform as being motivated at least in part by partisan concerns, rather than what justice demands.

P.S. As always, our approval and favorability numbers can be found on our weekly trends page.

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Comment Preferences

  •  SCOTUS, a wholly owned subsidiary of (14+ / 0-)

    Koch Industries.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:14:57 AM PDT

  •  Poll mavens; does the question move the needle? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, cardinal, Larsstephens

    I don't know how many people actually think the Court is non-partisan, but that's what we're taught to believe about jurisprudence.

    Does the wording of this question---that one assumes the Court is partisan, but to what amount---matter to its validity?

    •  That's possible, but what would be a better (4+ / 0-)

      question? "Do you think the court acts without prejudice?"

      Your left is my right---Mort Sahl

      by HappyinNM on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:25:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's hard to come up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        with a valid poll question about the SC, since only a tiny proportion of the public knows anything about its workings. Commercial pollsters ask all sorts of questions, such as "In general, do you think the current Supreme Court is too liberal, too conservative, or just about right?" (Gallup) But that's a stupid question to ask in a general poll, and predictably the results are nearly an exact mirror-image of ideological self-identification.

        If you are going to poll the present question in a fair manner, you MUST treat the court's partisanship as a disputed premise rather than taking it as a given (as obvious as it may seem to liberal commentators).

        You are reading my signature line. #hashtag

        by cardinal on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:08:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •   What I wonder is (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raster44, Pinto Pony, chrississippi, eps62

      Next time ask them if they think the court is too conservative or too liberal?

      •  Yes. A lot of times (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        when these questions are asked, the respondents are actually answering from the other side of the fence. For example, in this case, they could be thinking, "Darn those liberal activist judges Sotomayor and Kagan for making the SC more partisan!"

        "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

        by bryduck on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:35:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Good point. That's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      one of several problems with the question.


      You are reading my signature line. #hashtag

      by cardinal on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:42:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Even when I took American history (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and civics in the late 60's we were taught how the SC had been influenced over the years. As in, it has a long  history of being partisan, in different ways, at different times, for different reasons.

      While the goal of jurisprudence is non partisan and non discriminatory, I have a hard time thinking many people believe that is more than an ideal that struggles in a world of humans that err.

      HappyinNM suggests "Do you think the court acts without prejudice?" Which is good, and then difficult. I could see that at times there does not appear prejudice. Maybe "Do you believe that the court acts without prejudice :
      - always
      - most of the time

      Then you could go from there to ask about whether it had changed.

      I am usually a stickler on survey questions. This one is  not that much of a problem to me.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:57:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just hope that the ACA survives. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HappyinNM, raster44, eps62

    It is a good policy that allows a lot of people to get assistance that they would otherwise be ineligible for.  There are too many ways for insurance agencies to say no to people in need, and not enough people making sure the answer is "yes" to necessary coverage.

  •  With All The Historical Precedent For Not Striking (6+ / 0-)

    the mandate, if this SCOTUS strikes it down there will be no doubt in anyone's mind that the far right members of the supreme court has abandoned any decision remotley linked to historical precedent and the letter of the constitution.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:26:26 AM PDT

  •  8% believe President Obama is too conservative (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  The President and the GOP. (0+ / 0-)

      This President thinks he can win over his enemies, so he tries to appease them.  That's a huge mistake when it has anything to do with the Republican Party.  They are incapable of being appeased by Democrats who they really hate.  They're still trashing FDR who historians see as one of the greatest Presidents we've ever had.

  •  from my point of view (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Pinto Pony, eps62, opinionated

    it hasn't been a rightward drift, it's been a rightward smoking squealing burnout over the past 10-12 years.

    I'd like them to ask the question "Do you think the Supreme Court is partisan?" in addition to the question they asked about it becoming more partisan.

  •  Bad week for Obama I see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, bear83

    That sucks.

  •  Unfortunately, we may be replacing a liberal first (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ginsberg is probably the next to leave.

    I'd be surprised if Kennedy stepped down, but it would be a nice F U to the right and to Bush for not making him Chief Justice (which would have, by the way, been a hugely preferential situation to having Roberts in that position).

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:43:36 AM PDT

  •  Link to recent Nation article on Supreme Court (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eps62, opinionated

    I certainly believe the court has become an activist conservative court under Roberts.

     Anyway the Nation article has some good information.

  •  "Supreme" is the wrong word for this Court (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orlaine, opinionated, Positronicus

    Bush v. Gore destroyed all my respect for the Court, and we definitely need to do something about the lifetime jobs on the Court.

    •  The U.S. Constitution needs amending. (0+ / 0-)

      We need to stop worshipping the Constitution and improve our government.  We can start with how we elect our President by the electoral college.  When our government was formed the people involved didn't have the knowledge about government that we have now.

    •  Bush v. Gore, an arrow through the heart (0+ / 0-)

      of the country. I said at the time, they needed to issue a unanimous, one-page deision. Anything more complicated than one page, and anything less than unanimous, would be a disaster.

      And what a disaster it was. More than a decade later, we're still reeling, and the court has completely lost its credibility. I don't trust the integrity of their decisions any more than I trust the integrity of Clarence Thomas.

      Which is to say, not at all. When they get it right, it's not a matter of deep judicial reasoning, it's a matter of luck.

      “No, Mitt, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they love, they cry, they dance, they live and they die. Learn the difference.”-- Elizabeth Warren

      by Positronicus on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 01:12:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think we learn much (0+ / 0-)

    from this question.

    --As a commenter above noted, using "more partisan" is slanted phrasing. It's taking a disputed premise -- in fact, the one whose dynamics you're trying to poll -- as a given.

    --"Since 2000" could either mean "from 2000 until now" (I would guess that's the dominant interpretation) or "after 2000." Your interpretation seems to be the latter; but if respondents are reading it as the former, the "yes" responses will reflect Bush v. Gore.

    --Scholars have shown that perceptions of different political institutions, while containing unique components, have a high degree of shared variance. This is the case even with focused questions like approval of the current Court. And it's far more likely when you bring a separate phenomenon -- partisanship -- into the question. Many folks perceive that everything in society is becoming more partisan. The question "do you think _____ has become more partisan since 2000" will have a high baseline "yes" response, regardless of what fills in the blank. And, since the Supreme Court is the least-well understood branch, its answer is hard to distinguish conceptually from a generic question about partisanship.

    So I think the topline level is pretty much worthless. However, I'll grant that you've tapped something real in the partisan/ideological crosstabs, since they're sensitive to differences among the small subset of the population that actually pays attention to the Court.

    You are reading my signature line. #hashtag

    by cardinal on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:55:21 AM PDT

  •  Good. Now maybe we can dispense (0+ / 0-)

    with this idea of an impartial judge, carefully weighing the pros and cons and applying the law. That's a bunch of bullshit. At lower trial courts, yes. At the appellate level yes. But at the Supreme Court level, its politics. A political interpretation of the law is their job by definition.

    So lets hope we can stop appointing all these "legal scholars" and appoint people who know something about how the law actually affects people. The Supreme Court is a political body like the other two. Different in character perhaps, but certainly not an impartial non political body.

    FDR understood this.

  •  And? (0+ / 0-)

    i get it-- the SCOTUS is more partisan-- didn't need a poll to tell me that.

    Now what? The appointments are for life; there's not much turnover here.

    Let's focus on the deadbeats in the senate, where the real power is, and where there's actually elections required.

    "The fundamental strength of the economy is unimpaired". Herbert Hoover December 2, 1930

    by Superpole on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:02:23 PM PDT

  •  OT. Does Kos have any influence with SEIU? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The head of their west division is supporting the CA legislature in getting rid of the state's land mark legislation for nurse - patient staffing ratios that the nurses unions there got passed. It is the only state that has done it unfortunately, so if repealed it would likely derail other states efforts.

    Because of nurse and CNA staffing, I do not recommend leaving any family member who is too ill to care for themselves alone if they are hospitalized. They also need to be mentally competent enough to raise questions, get answers and determine if the answer is sufficient.

    "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

    by Ginny in CO on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:06:13 PM PDT

  •  Obama cannot win with 44% approval (0+ / 0-)

    This will need to go up or he's toast. And PPP is consistent with other recent polls I'm seeing - Gallup and Ras have him at 45%.

  •  For once, I have to agree with RWers. (0+ / 0-)

    SCOTUS has become an "Activist Court".

    However, it's only being an activist for the 1%.

    "What's next?" - President Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing

    by shaf on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:25:38 PM PDT

  •  More partisan? I think not. (0+ / 0-)

    If the question had been has the SCOTUS become more right-wing oriented, my answer would've been a resounding yes. But I also believe it's true that for decades the court definitely leaned to the Left. I think the Roe v. Wade decision illustrates that point of view perfectly. And I'm not in favor of legislation by judiciary whichever way the SCOTUS happens to be leaning at any given time.

    •  Do you think that Roe v. Wade (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ginny in CO

      was decided incorrectly?

      I'd like to know your views on this.

      If you play Microsoft CD's backwards, you hear satanic things, but that's nothing, because if you play them forwards, they install Windows.

      by Unit Zero on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 06:17:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Me too. Also, why right wing versus (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Unit Zero


        Legislation by the judiciary was established in Marbury vs Madison 1803, much to Jefferson's anger. I have issues with it and would love to have the time to study some of the legal discussion on that. There are a lot of bigger, deeper problems with the judicial system that need attention.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 11:28:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Conservative & liberal courts needn't be partisan. (0+ / 0-)

      This SCOTUS, however, is more partisan than it is conservative -- the majority 5 are driven by goals that are not grounded in law or intellectual honesty.

      Scalia's recent dismissal of his own (published) support for for the precedent that would inconveniently stand in the way of his opposing the ACA places this fact on the hard and gory bald-face of the lie.

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 03:40:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Top line number is awful (0+ / 0-)

    Is that why it gets buried every week?

    Really, does anyone care what people think about the Supreme Court?

    There's only one thing that matters: beating Romney.  And right now?  It looks like hell.  Does anyone seriously think the job numbers are going to magically improve through the fall?  That the GOP isn't going to unleash billionaire-ad hell?  That the Court's trashing of the ACA isnt going to make Obama look like an ineffectual fool?

    This country is rocketing toward Third-World status, and I'm not sure we can prevent it.  There's just too much ignorance and hate.

    And please don't say, 'work harder.'

  •  Right track (0+ / 0-)

    Numbers are terrible. They are moving back up, that is not good. The jobs numbers are going to be terrible and the election is becoming a Anti-Obama election. Thats not good

  •  The natural correllary to this (0+ / 0-)

    is increasing contempt for decisions by the Supreme Court, in particular, the then the legal system in general.

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