POLITICS
07/29/2015 05:52 pm ET

The Supreme Court Is Less Popular Than It Has Been In Decades

Republicans' dissatisfaction with recent rulings may have driven the decline in favorability.

Don't let the cheering crowds outside the Supreme Court fool you. The largest share of Americans in 30 years has a negative view of the Supreme Court, according to a July survey by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew survey, released Thursday, found that 43 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court, compared with 48 percent of Americans who have a favorable opinion of it.

The increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court was driven by a rise in unfavorable views among Republicans. The percentage of Republicans who said they have an unfavorable opinion of the court went from 40 percent in March to 61 percent in the new survey. 

The Pew survey results could have been driven by dissatisfaction with recent Supreme Court decisions. The Supreme Court issued rulings in late June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and upholding the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for buying insurance on state-run exchanges, both of which rankled conservatives. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents opposed to same-sex marriage, and 58 percent of respondents opposed to the Affordable Care Act, have an unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court.

Support for the court increased among Democrats over the same period, however. From March to July, the percentage of Democrats with a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court went from 54 percent to 62 percent.

The survey results will come as no surprise to Republican presidential candidates, who have elicited applause for attacking the Supreme Court in their stump speeches. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has gone furthest in his criticism, arguing that the Supreme Court justices should be elected.

Pew surveyed 2,002 adults between July 14 and 20, using live interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones.

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