Download PDF As the Supreme Court prepares to hand down its end-of-term rulings, AEI’s Public Opinion team has examined current and historical views of the court and individual justices , comparing questions asked by more 30 major pollsters. Among the major findings of this AEI Public Opinion Study:
The Pew Research Center’s measure of favorability for 2012 is the lowest in 25 years.
*Americans believe that the justices bring their personal views to their decisions. In 1946, 43 percent said the court decided many questions based on politics. In a late May/early June 2012 CBS News/New York Times poll, 76 percent said the court decides cases based on personal and political views, not legal analysis. When asked specifically about the health care case, around 50 percent believe the justices will let their partisan or ideological views enter into their decisions.
* Most Americans are not familiar with individual justices. In a 2010 Pew poll, only 28 percent could identify John Roberts as the chief justice. During Roberts’s confirmation hearing in September 2005, 53 percent told Pew he was “generally considered” a conservative, and 25 percent didn’t know. Two years later, 37 percent said he was generally considered a conservative and 48 percent didn’t know. It is unlikely that the health care ruling will shape Roberts’s legacy in the public consciousness.