For the first time since 2017, most Americans disapprove of the way the Supreme Court does its job. This is according to the results of a survey by Gallup released Wednesday, July 28, from polling data gathered between July 6 and 21. Slight majorities of Democrats and Republicans – 51% in both cases – do approve of the Court’s work, but the independents’ disdain managed to drag the rating below halfway, with only 46% of the unaffiliated being pleased.
Scorn for SCOTUS?
The poll started days after the Court concluded its latest term, a busy one including major decisions on free speech and the Fourth Amendment, as well as religious institutions performing government social services. In addition to the 49% of U.S. adults who approve of the Supreme Court’s job, 44% disapprove, and 7% express no opinion.
The Gallup organization said it “continues to see little difference in partisans’ evaluations of the court, all party groups have lower approval ratings than they did a year ago, including a nine-percentage-point decline among Republicans, 11 points among independents and five points among Democrats.” However, the organization did not offer any likely reason independents’ opinion was more negative by comparison.
Changes Coming to the Court?
Since November’s presidential election, progressives have spent the months denigrating the Court and demanding more justices be added. With a Democrat president to appoint the new judges and a Democrat majority in the Senate to confirm them, packing the Court at this time could easily turn the current conservative majority to a progressive one.
The Supreme Court has nine justices, but that number is not legally required. It is based on tradition, as the U.S. Constitution prescribes no set number. On April 9, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14023, forming the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. The commission wasn’t empaneled to resolve a specific question or address a compelling issue, as is typical with presidential commissions. Instead, its “purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”
The commission has been widely seen as a sop to progressives demanding more justices be added to the Court by Democrats. President Biden said he “was not a fan” of court-packing during his election campaign, however that hasn’t stopped Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) arguing for it.
The Supreme Court is on summer break and will resume hearing cases October 4. There is no deadline for the commission to conclude its work.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.