- Approval of Supreme Court at 43%, little changed from 40% last year
- 13% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans, 40% of independents approve
- 61-point partisan gap in approval is highest on record
Washington, D.C. -- After several prominent rulings at the end of its term in June, most of which were decided in favor of conservatives' positions on the issues, the U.S. Supreme Court's overall job approval rating is 43%, statistically unchanged from last year's 40% reading. However, the stability in the overall reading masks big swings among partisans, with Republicans' approval rating rising 29 percentage points to 72% and Democrats' falling 23 points to 13%.
Supreme Court Approval Rating Relatively Stable Near Low Point
The Supreme Court's approval rating has remained statistically unchanged since last year when the court reached a record-low rating in the public's approval of the job the court is doing.
The Gallup poll was conducted July 5-26, after the court handed down some of its most consequential rulings in decades on abortion and environmental policy. During this period, the court also ruled on a case concerning gun rights; while only impacting citizens in the state of New York, this case brought the court into public focus in the context of the national debate on gun ownership rights and safety. The current job approval ratings come on the heels of public confidence in the Supreme Court dropping to a record low in June.
The trend in Supreme Court approval suggested the institution had already taken a public image hit long before it announced its 2021-2022 term decisions in June. The Court stirred controversy outside the term last September when it allowed a controversial Texas abortion law to go into effect and allowed colleges to require students to wear face masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission but rejected President Biden's mask mandate for federal workers.
The difference between the reading from September of last year and the current reading is that in September, the three major party groups were about equally upset with the court, whereas now Republicans are much more pleased and Democrats much more disappointed with how it is handling its job.
Republican Approval of SCOTUS Jumps to 74%
While Republicans' latest 74% approval rating is not the highest historically for the group, Democrats' 13% rating is the lowest recorded for them. For their part, a relatively steady 40% of independents approve of the court.
While the partisan gap today is large, 2015 witnessed a 58-point gap where approval among Republicans reached a historic low (18%), and Democrats' a historic high (76%), in the wake of the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision prohibiting state bans on same-sex marriage.
The current 13% approval for Democrats is the lowest approval rating for the court that Gallup has measured for any party group.
Most American Women Disapprove of the Supreme Court's Job Performance
While partisanship is the main driver of approval of the Supreme Court, there are substantial differences in job approval ratings for the court among other demographic groups.
One of the most glaring differences is among women and men, with a 12-percentage-point difference in disapproval between the two genders, 61% vs. 49%.
There were also important differences across age groups, as younger Americans, those aged 18-29 (62%) and 30-49 (60%), were more likely to disapprove of the job the court is doing than Americans who are 50 and older (49%).
While the Supreme Court is the only nonelected branch of the federal government, its recent judicial decisions have placed it squarely at the center of some of America's most controversial political debates on women's rights, the role of government in regulating air pollution, and more. This focus has coincided with a decline in job approval of the court, with Democrats, and Democratic-leaning demographic groups, including women and younger Americans, in a year when overall opinions of the court reached a record low.
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