Supreme Court Update

Majority Says Supreme Court Should Look to Written Constitution for Rulings, Just 35% Think Obama Agrees

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. voters (64%) say U.S. Supreme Court decisions should be based on what is written in the Constitution, but only 35% think President Obama agrees with them.

Twenty-seven percent (27%) say high court rulings should be guided by fairness and justice, and nine percent (9%) are not sure which is more important, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

A slight plurality of voters (38%) say Obama thinks the Supreme Court should base its decisions on fairness and justice. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure.

As for the court itself, 50% say its decisions are actually based on what is written in the Constitution, the more conservative or strict constructionalist view. Twenty-three percent (23%) say they are based on fairness and justice, the more liberal judicial philosophy. Again, over one-quarter of voters (27%) are undecided.

A majority (53%) believe Supreme Court justices have their own political agenda anyway. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say the justices are impartial, and 21% are not sure.

Amidst speculation that Obama may have to deal with his first vacancy on the Supreme Court by this summer, 38% believe Obama’s nominees will be too liberal, but 45% expect them to be about right. Just five percent (5%) say the new president’s nominees will be too conservative, and 13% are not sure. These numbers are unchanged from a month ago.

Forty-two percent (42%) rate the nominations the new president makes to the Supreme Court as Very Important. Another 33% say Obama’s choices for the high court are somewhat important, with only five percent (5%) saying they are not important at all.

As he nears the end of his first week in the new job, Obama is getting very positive reviews from the nation’s voters in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Approval Index.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) give the Supreme Court good or excellent marks for job performance. Thirteen percent (13%) view the court’s performance as poor. These numbers have been roughly consistent for months.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans say high court rulings should be based on what is written in the Constitution, compared to 52% of Democrats. Sixty-four percent (64%) of unaffiliated voters agree.

Forty-six percent (46%) of Republicans say Obama’s nominees to the court are Very Important, a view shared by 41% of Democrats and 39% of unaffiliateds. But Republicans are also nearly twice as likely to say Obama’s nominations are not at all important, compared to the other two groups of voters.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of GOP voters say Obama believes the Supreme Court justices should decide cases by fairness and justice, while 33% say Obama puts more emphasis on the written Constitution. Democrats and unaffiliated voters are even more narrowly divided, giving the slight edge to what’s in the Constitution.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republicans also believe that Obama’s nominees will be too liberal, while 76% of Democrats say they will be about right. The plurality of unaffiliated voters by 11 points believe they will be too liberal.

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