Low public confidence of Supreme Court before news of Breyer’s retirement- Pew study

The survey also revealed broad skepticism that justices are not influenced by politics.

Protestors demonstrate outside the US Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced US Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in Washington, US, September 26, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN)
Protestors demonstrate outside the US Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced US Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in Washington, US, September 26, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN)

In a national survey by the Pew Research Center, more than half (54%) of US adults say they have a favorable opinion of the US Supreme Court while 44% have an unfavorable view.

The survey was conducted before Justice Stephen Breyer, who was appointed to the court in 1994 by Democratic President Bill Clinton, announced his retirement and President Joe Biden reiterated his pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court to replace him.

The poll was conducted on the heels of a historic change among the court’s justices and a series of highly anticipated rulings on matters ranging from abortion to gun policy. Its public image had been at a record high in years, as Democrats – especially liberal Democrats – increasingly expressed unfavorable views of the court.

The recent decline in favorability is due largely to a sharp drop-off among Democrats. Last year, about two-thirds said they had a favorable view of the court. Today, that number has fallen to 46%. And among liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners, just 36% view the court positively, down from 57%.

Favorable views among Republicans have also dipped over the past few years, though are largely unchanged since 2021: Roughly two-thirds continue to hold positive opinions of the court.

Stephen Breyer (credit: REUTERS)Stephen Breyer (credit: REUTERS)

Survey findings also revealed that the majority of the US electorate, notably those who have been more attentive to recent cases being heard by the court, believes the court’s ideology has changed views, becoming more conservative, and that there is wide skepticism about the belief that justices are not influenced by politics.