Bench Memos

Poll Results

Today’s Washington Post article on the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll highlights a couple of interesting results. First, Americans recognize the value of judicial experience in a Supreme Court nominee:

[The] poll shows that judicial experience is the most valued quality among a list of professional and personal characteristics. Seven in 10 say service as a judge is a positive quality for a Supreme Court nominee, while only 5 percent see it as a negative.

Second, despite the barrage of media claims that the Court is too conservative, Americans recognize otherwise:

Overall, 46 percent say the current court is balanced in its decisions, a figure basically unchanged from when the question was asked three years ago. But now, 26 percent consider it too liberal, compared with 21 percent who say it is too conservative. Three years ago, 31 percent called the Supreme Court’s rulings too conservative and 18 percent thought they were too liberal.

The Left might try to find hope in the report that “six in 10 want the next justice to vote to uphold Roe, while 38 percent say it should be overturned.” But even apart from the fact that the 38% figure is apparently a high, the Roe question is drafted in a way that predictably understates support for overturning Roe. Here’s how the question reads:

The Supreme Court legalized abortion 37 years ago in the ruling known as Roe versus Wade. If that case came before the court again, would you want the next justice to vote to (uphold) Roe versus Wade, or vote to (overturn) it?

The phrase “legalized abortion” could easily lead respondents to believe that the effect of overturning Roe would be to make abortion illegal, when it would in fact be to restore abortion policy to the democratic processes. Nor, of course, does the question reveal how extreme the Roe/Casey regime is and how it prevents implementation of measures that Americans overwhelmingly support. As I discussed in this post about a poll three years ago, with even a brief education about what Roe really means, public opinion on overturning Roe swung a full 16 points in the direction favoring the reversal of Roe

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