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Poll: More Washingtonians losing trust in US Supreme Court

Apr 28, 2023, 12:25 PM

supreme court...

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 21: The Supreme Court of the United States on Friday, April 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. The high court decided to preserve access to a drug Mifepristone used in the most common method of abortion, rejecting lower-court restrictions while a lawsuit continues. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

People in Washington state appear to be losing trust in the U.S. Supreme Court, likely due to the court’s ruling last summer in the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that overturned precedent in abortion protections.

A new Crosscut-Elway poll asked more than 400 voters between April 11 – 15 if they believed the justices are more likely to follow the Constitution or their political agenda.

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Of the respondents, 58% said that the Supreme Court based its decisions on political opinions, compared to 33% of respondents who said that the judges ruled using the Constitution. Of those respondents, ones that identified as Democrats were more likely to think that the court was inherently political, at 74%.

This kind of polarization continues, with 46% of those polled saying they “disapprove” or “strongly disapprove” of the Court, and 45% responded that they “approve” or “strongly approve, which is generally split along party lines, with Democrats more likely to disapprove of the court, and Republicans more likely to approve.

Pollster Stuart Elway said that this is likely due to the recent decisions that have gone through the Supreme Court, and especially some of the more recent justices that have been added to the court.

“There’s a lot of debate about what’s the proper role of the court and Congress and the President, and all three of the branches of our government are kind of in a struggle now for what their proper role should be,” Elway said. “Since Congress can’t seem to get a lot done, the House is deadlocked now. And so all these things are getting more along political lines and the recent history of the judges, the last three justices that Trump appointed, all three were pretty controversial and flared up in the news, along partisan lines.”

Many respondents strongly favored Supreme Court reforms, with nearly three-quarters supporting a mandatory retirement age and 70% agreeing there should be term limits for justices.

Both those changes would require a constitutional amendment.

Elway explained that he thinks that these disputes about satisfaction with the Supreme Court aren’t going away soon.

“I think it reflects the sort of tribal polarization that we find ourselves in now,” Elway said. “I don’t see a clear path for how we get out of this. This kind of scrutiny to the Supreme Court is going to continue.”

Kate Stone contributed to this report

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Poll: More Washingtonians losing trust in US Supreme Court