Special Report

Trust in the Supreme Court the Year You Were Born

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Friday the half a century old Roe V. Wade precedent, revoking women’s constitutional right to abortion. The ruling came a day after the nation’s highest court struck down a century old New York state law requiring residents to have “proper cause” to carry a handgun. These landmark rulings will have far reaching consequences nationwide.

Just ahead of the court reversing its 1973 abortion ruling, Gallup released a poll about the American confidence in the Supreme Court. According to the recent poll, Americans’ confidence in the court has dropped sharply over the past year, reaching a new low of 25% (combined great and quite a lot of confidence), down from 36% a year ago. The 11 points decline comes as Americans remain opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade by a 2-to-1 margin, according to Gallup.

To determine American trust in the Supreme Court the year you were born, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Gallup’s Confidence in U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to Historic Low released June 23. Gallup conducted telephone interviews between June 1-20, 2022, with 1,015 adults ages 18+, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Gallup notes that based on this sample, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The highest court comprises eight associate justices and one chief justice, all of whom serve lifetime appointments, according to the Constitution. When it was drafted, the aim was to shield the judiciary from political pressures as with a lifetime appointment, judges cannot be fired. In 211 years, though, there have been just 17 chief justices and a total of 112 Supreme Court justices, and judges today serve an average of 28 years, longer than at any time. 

This has created a Supreme Court often criticized for being highly polarized along partisan lines, with one president able to influence the court for decades.

Over the years, the Supreme Court has enjoyed the most confidence from Americans during the mid- to late-1980s, the time of the Reagan administration. Several landmark decisions from the time include cases of discrimination based on race, sex, and gender, Fourth Amendment rights, First Amendment rights, Federalism, and more.

Two most recent decisions will have immediate consequences. About half the states have laws that could make abortions illegal, and about half of states may now find they have unconstitutional gun laws on their books. (These are the states where abortion will be illegal.)

Going forward, Americans’ confidence may depend on where the court takes matters from here. Just as Pride Month is coming to a close, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court should reconsider rulings about birth control and same-sex marriage in the future. That may be going against decades of established societal trends. (Not the U.S., but this is the No. 1 democracy in the world.)

Click here to see American trust in the Supreme Court the year you were born

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