WASHINGTON -- Fifty-two percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the Supreme Court, a quarter-century low according to Pew Research Center, which released the polling data on Tuesday.
The court's new numbers, compiled during the first half of April through interviews with more than 3,000 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reveal similar ratings among Republicans, Democrats and independents. "There are virtually no partisan differences in views of the Supreme Court: 56% of Republicans, and 52% of both Democrats and independents rate the Supreme Court favorably," Pew reported.
"The weak ratings for the court across party lines stands in contrast to most previous polls, in which those in the president’s party have viewed the Supreme Court more favorably than those in the opposite party," the reported noted.
Pew's findings also show that the rating by Republicans rose slightly since they were last polled in June 2010.
A 4-point uptick in Republicans' opinion since 2010 -- and the Democrats' 13-point dip -- could have resulted from the fact that Pew conducted the poll shortly after the Supreme Court concluded oral arguments in the health care cases, when justices seemed hostile to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Indeed, the share of Democrats who view the court favorably (52 precent) matches the percentage of those with favorable views among supporters of the health care law. And the percentage of Republicans who favor the court (56 percent) is virtually identical to the share with positive views among those disapproving of the health care law (55 percent).
The Democrats' change in view in less than two years might have resulted from disappointment over the fact that President Obama's appointments of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in 2009 and 2010 have not surmounted the conservatism tenor set after President George W. Bush's appointments of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Meanwhile, the court's small gain in favorability among Republicans still leaves that group's ranking relatively low.
In January 2001, immediately after the justices decided Bush v. Gore, Republican respondents gave the court an 80 percent approval rating. Then Democrats registered a comparatively low 62 percent approval rate -- still 10 points higher than Tuesday's findings.
The downward trend, as reported by Pew, might point to a public less willing to give the justices the benefit of the doubt when it comes to rulings on politically charged issues. The new low in opinion for the court still is higher than approval ratings, according to HuffPost Pollster, for the president who has a 47 percent favorability rating, and Congress, which has drawn a 9 percent favorability rating.