Federal Courts and Nominations

Most Voters Think The Supreme Court Treats Corporations Better Than People

By  Ariel Edwards-Levy


American voters are broadly unhappy with the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a poll released Tuesday. The survey, conducted by Democratic pollster The Mellman Group for the progressive-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center, finds that most rate the court negatively and back changes to the system.


Although few voters have strong opinions one way or the other, just 33 percent rate the Supreme Court’s performance as good or excellent, while 60 percent give it a negative rating. Disapproval crosses party lines, with about half of moderates in both parties, and more than 60 percent of liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans and independents viewing the Court negatively. (Ratings on a 4-point scale tend to be somewhat lower than in polls where the only options are “approve” or “disapprove.”)


About 70 percent say they’d support term limits for Supreme Court Justices, and 61 percent would like to see television cameras allowed to film Court proceedings


While 56 percent of voters don’t think corporations should have the same constitutional rights as individual people, most think the Supreme Court takes a different view — a 55 percent majority believes the Court treats corporations more favorably than individuals.


Voters are also frustrated with the large number of judicial vacancies on lower courts, and 51 percent agree that ending the filibuster of judicial nominees — a move sometimes known as the “nuclear option” — was the right thing to do. 


The Mellman poll, which surveyed 1,000 registered voters by phone between April 16 and April 21, before several high-profile court decisions, is the second left-leaning survey making the rounds this month to highlight discontent with the Supreme Court. A survey for Democracy Corps by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that Americans would approve of a series of sweeping reforms, including abolishing lifetime appointments to the court.


Not every survey has bad news for the Supreme Court, however. A Pew Research poll released in early May found that 56 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the court, up from a historic low last summer.

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