As the U.S. Supreme Court opens its Fall 2022 session, public trust in the Court is at a historic low.
Just 47 percent of U.S. adults have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the Supreme Court, which is a “20-percentage point drop from two years ago, including seven points since last year,” according to a new survey from Gallup.
Additionally, the poll finds only “40 percent of Americans say they approve, and a record-high 58 percent saying they disapprove, of the job the Supreme Court is doing.”
The drop in trust is largely driven by a steep decline among Democrats, the survey data show. Last September, 50 percent of Democrats had a “great deal or fair amount of trust in the Court.” This year, that number has been cut by half.
The latest data follows a summer that saw Justices hand down controversial rulings in numerous cases, including one that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade; another involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which, in effect, rolled back authority for federal administrative agencies; and a case where the Court ruled in favor of a high school football coach who led players in prayer on the 50-yard line after games.
“The court has come under criticism for a series of rulings in its last term that aligned with conservative policy preferences, including on abortion, environmental policy, gun laws and the separation of church and state,” Gallup says.
Abortion is a primary issue eroding public confidence in the Supreme Court, according to Gallup, with approval numbers dropping nine-points in less than three months last summer after the court allowed a Texas abortion law to go forward, and with only 43 percent approving it’s ruling in Hobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Approval of the Supreme Court is strongly correlated with political party. Currently, the Court’s approval rating among Republicans is at 60 percent, while only 23 percent of Democrats approve.
For perspective, in 2015, only 18 percent of Republicans supported the Supreme Court, while 76 percent of Democrats did.
In describing the Court’s ideology, the latest poll finds that 71 percent of Democrats now say the Court is “too conservative,” while 58 of Republicans say it is “about right”.
Gallup notes that the Court has seen its approval rating dip into the low 40s three times in the past: 2005, 2013, and 2016.
The Court’s Fall session is stacked with more controversial cases on issues, including affirmative action, LGBT rights, and election laws.