Obama May Get the Chance to Remake Increasingly Unpopular High Court

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 1, 2013 1:50 PM

Supreme Court Justices

The U.S. Supreme Court has been in the news in recent days after major decisions on same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action -- but a new poll finds the highest court’s prestige is slipping with likely voters. But, with more Americans thinking the Supreme Court is too liberal than think it is too conservative, President Barack Obama can move it even further to the left.

Rasmussen Reports released a poll on Monday which shows only 8 percent think the Supreme Court is doing an excellent job while 20 percent think the justices are doing a good job. But 30 percent think the Supreme Court is doing a poor job and 39 percent think it is only doing a fair job. In the nine years Rasmussen has been polling on how voters evaluate the job the Supreme Court is doing, this is the highest percentage who think it is doing a poor job.

After last week’s rulings, including deciding that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, liberal voters generally hold the Supreme Court in higher esteem than moderates and conservatives. While 46 percent of liberals think the Supreme Court is doing an excellent or a good job, only 30 percent of moderates and 16 percent of conservative feel the same way.

This poll represents an increased number of voters thinking the Supreme Court is doing a poor job when compared to a Rasmussen poll released on June 21. That poll found only 24 percent of likely voters thinking the Supreme Court was doing a poor job while 30 percent said the Supreme Court was doing either an excellent or good job. Almost two-fifths of those surveyed -- 39 percent -- thought the Supreme Court was doing a fair job in the June 21 poll.

In their new poll, Rasmussen Reports pointed toward the Supreme Court’s declining approval in recent years. In 2009, 48 percent of voters thought the Supreme Court was doing an excellent or good job. That included 51 percent of moderates, 48 percent of conservatives and 46 percent of liberals.

Voters remain split on how they view the Supreme Court, with 39 percent insisting it is too liberal and 24 percent thinking it is too conservative.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken from June 28-29 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

There could be more changes coming to the Supreme Court, moving it even further to the left. As he moves forward through his second term, Obama could have a major chance to remake the Supreme Court since three current justices are already in their early 80s or late 70s. Liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was appointed by Bill Clinton back in 1993, turned 80 back in March. Two justices appointed by Ronald Reagan -- Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy -- are now in their late 70s. Scalia, a conservative who was named to the Supreme Court in 1986, turned 77 in March. Kennedy, who has often been the swing vote in recent years, has served on the Supreme Court since 1988 and turns 77 next month. It’s certainly possible Obama could name replacements for those three justices as well as Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer who turns 75 next month.

If Obama gets to make three more appointments before he leaves office in January 2017, he will be one of only a handful of presidents who named a majority of the Supreme Court during their times in the White House. In the 20th century, only William Howard Taft, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower named five or more justices to the Supreme Court during their presidencies.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at 904-521-3722.

Comments (3)

3:42PM JUL 2ND 2013
As a Florida resident, I'm ashamed that Kevin would write something so bitterly inferior in the "Sunshine State News."
8:47AM JUL 2ND 2013
the SC is becoming exactly what conservatives rail about, activists. doma a decisions basically over turned a Congressional enacted law. in the voting rights act it did the same thing. roberts has said the SC overturning a congressional law is serious business and yet we have two decisions in a row doing exactly that. roberts wants to act on his ideological agenda without looking like he is and hurting his legacy on the court. in the last several yrs the court has repeatably sided with corporate interests diminishing consumers and workers rights. the courts 5 member majorities days are numbered and maybe we can get back to peoples rights instead of lots of money making the decisions.
5:22PM JUL 1ST 2013
Ah, yes, another Rasmussen poll . . . . so how's Romney doing as President after winning Ohio . . . . that was your polling data that time, correct . . . .

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