As the Supreme Court's conservative justices expel noxious fumes about their impartiality and adherence to judicial philosophy, Americans continue to call bullpucky in poll after poll.
The latest such survey, conducted nationally by Selzer & Company for Grinnell College, shows that 62% of Americans view politics—not the law—as the main driver of Supreme Court decisions.
The sentiment actually represents a rare moment in these times when Americans across the political spectrum agree, with 60% of Republicans, 66% of Democrats, and 63% of independents all saying the political views of the justices drive the decision-making of the nation’s highest court.
“This is a nightmare scenario for Chief Justice John Roberts, who has sought to protect the court’s reputation as an apolitical institution,” said Grinnell College National Poll Director Peter Hanson. “The court faces a public convinced that its decisions are about politics rather than the Constitution, just as it prepares to make important decisions on abortion, guns, and affirmative action.”
Additionally, Americans think something can and should be done about the unchecked reign of the high court's justices since the public has lost faith in their ability to deliver "equal justice under the law," as the motto inscribed on the front of U.S. Supreme Court building states.
The poll included a question about whether the justices, who are currently appointed to lifelong terms, should instead be appointed to 15-year terms. When asked whether they favored changing to a "one-time, 15-year term for each justice," 62% of respondents said "yes."
The public is unhappy—unhappy enough that they want to reform the court. That loss of legitimacy, coupled with public support for reshaping the Supreme Court, is indeed Chief Justice Roberts' nightmare scenario—not to mention that of Mitch McConnell.