July 29, 2007

"Three in 10 Call SCOTUS 'Too Conservative.'"

Shouldn't that be 7 in 10 don't think the Supreme Court is "too conservative"?

The key thing is that the number of eople are saying "too conservative" has increased since Roberts and Alito joined the Court. And more people are saying "too conservative" -- 31% -- than "too liberal" -- 18%. 47% think the Court is well-balanced, but back in 2005, 55% said that.

Actually, I think it's surprising, after all the press coverage of the Roberts and Alito nominations, that many more Americans haven't absorbed the view that the Supreme Court is too conservative. It suggests that the issue of Supreme Court appointments isn't going to work very well for the Democratic presidential candidates, who must be hoping to alarm people about the Court. By 55-43%, Americans approved of the Court's decision upholding the federal ban on "partial birth" abortion. And abortion is -- by far -- the main issue Democrats use to fire up voters.

But how are you supposed to vote if you think the Court is currently well-balanced? It depends on who we predict will leave the Court in the next 4 years. The Democrats ought to stress that it is far more likely that 2 or 3 liberal Justices will be going and that we need a Democratic President to preserve the balance. That is, you don't need to convince people that the Court has become too conservative and needs to be changed, only that the current balance is good. Don't demonize Alito and Roberts. Just appeal to our love of stability.

20 comments:

rhhardin said...

Conservative is code for not supporting stuff that won't win with the voters, which refers back to inability to pass legislation for the stuff. The crisis would be taking stuff away that's there.

Balance means leaving stuff there that's there but not putting in more.

Liberal means enacting new losing lefty ideas.

The words shift when you refer to the Supreme Court, to avoid a latent contradiction.

Vincent said...

This is largely because Americans hold particularly unformed opinions about the Court and have little if any information on which to fall back when prompted by a pollster for an opinion. In such a circumstance a person with no opinion will generally accede to the institution by saying it's fine. Such is the nature of public opinion.

The Drill SGT said...

the link seemed bad to me

AlphaLiberal said...

More interesting is what percent have a clue what the Supreme Court does.

Liam said...

I'm always impressed by surveys that the press breathlessly announce which butress what they have been saying for months/years.

Self fulfilling prophecies and all that...

downtownlad said...

But what's the highest that this number could actually get?

I mean 50% of this country probably doesn't even realize we even have a Supreme Court.

Prosecutorial Indiscretion said...

DTL, if so many people don't even know we have a Supreme Court, doesn't that undermine the Court's authority to impose its will on the democratically-accountable branches?

Invisible Man said...

Conservative is code for not supporting stuff that won't win with the voters

Brilliant analysis, you should right a book or something.

hdhouse said...

Ann did you really say and mean that abortion is the issue Democrats use to fire up their voters? I thought the Republicans did that. Or maybe both do that.

Partial Birth Abortion is the original straw dog in this area and it is sad as always that it is used as a thermometer for the supreme court or any court.

TMink said...

HDHouse wrote: "Partial Birth Abortion is the original straw dog in this area and it is sad as always that it is used as a thermometer for the supreme court or any court."

Agreed. I am anti-abortion in most cases and I support partial birth abortion because I know something about the need for the procedure and how the pregnancy puts the mother's life at risk for an unviable child.

There are real issues in the abortion debate (obviously,) but partial birth abortions are rare, tragic, and necessary.

Trey

downtownlad said...

So Prosecutorial Indescretion thinks the Constitution is meaningless.

Everything should just be up for majority vote by our democratically elected institutions.

Prosecutorial Indiscretion said...

Where did I say the Constitution is meaningless? But if you're right and most people don't even know the Court exists, that suggests it ought to err on the side of deference. Heck, even if most people do know it exists, the Court should still err on the side of deference, because, as you mention, we have two democratically-elected branches of government, plus all those elected officials at the state and local levels.

Joe said...

As long as the court continues to go along with McCain/Feingold, it's a bunch of clueless morons.

(And partial birth abortions are NEVER necessary. There is a theory that there may be a situation where one could be, no one has ever shown an actual case where this was true.)

Joe said...

PS. Less anyone think I'm knee jerk anti-abortion, I actually believe abortion should be unrestricted for the first trimester and criminal thereafter.

Simon said...

Part of me wants to say that AlphaLiberal hit it on the head - every respondent who doesn't know what ERISA is, for example, should be discounted. But it just doesn't work like that: people make political decisions on the basis of what they know, ill-informed or otherwise; they vote on the basis of those decisions, and elections have consequences. It's all well and good to say that the voters have incoherent and ill-informed positions, but that means that legal conservatives have to go out there and explain this stuff to ordinary voters. You have to develop an argument that explains why Cass Sunstein's book has it precisely backwards, why conservative courts are right for America, and that's a case that can easily be built, in normative terms, no less. It's vital to develop and put forward a counter-narrative about Ledbetter for example, that explains why that decision was correct, and to explain to normative value of Hein. It's important to understand why dismising for want of standing in Hein, for example, isn't "technical grounds" (at least in any pejorative sense).

I say incoherent, by the way, becaue (for example) polls continue to show that majorities oppose overruling Roe v. Wade yet approve of regulations that cannot be enacted without overruling Roe. The framing of the question is also important: if you ask if local education board ought to settle important questions of school assignment, I can imagine getting responses that seem to ratify Justice Breyer's view of the School Cases. If you ask them whether school districts ought to be able to assign children to schools on the basis of race, you'll get a quite opposite result.

Ann Althouse said...

hdhouse said..."Ann did you really say and mean that abortion is the issue Democrats use to fire up their voters?"

I hope it was implied that I meant it's the main issue they use to fire up voters about the Supreme Court. I was only talking about the Democrats, not the Republicans, who also use abortion (obviously). My point in this post is about whether it will be for Democrats to use the Supreme Court appointments issue to stir up votes, based on the results of this poll, which suggests Democrats have a new advantage.

None of that was intended to say anything about whether the Supreme Court is a good issue for Republicans.

Neither party's candidate used the Supreme Court issue in 2004. But now there have been 2 appointments, so maybe it will be perceived differently in '08. But 2 conservatives replaced 2 conservatives, so what is different? What's different is that the next few openings ALL look like liberals, and the familiar, balanced Court is at risk.

Simon said...

Ann said...
"[N]ow there have been 2 appointments, so maybe it will be perceived differently in '08. But 2 conservatives replaced 2 conservatives, so what is different?"

As Kennedy goes, so the court goes, and in most of the big cases this term (not all - Mass is an unmitigated disaster, a gaping wound in standing doctrine), Kennedy sided with the liberals. But there are several issues on which Justice Kennedy swings left, and given the amount of space left on the docket next year, it's easy to imagine at least a quiet term, and maybe even one with several cases where Kennedy joins the liberals. For example: imagine the court takes an abortion case that falls clearly within Casey. Or suppose Congress shortly passes a statute nullifying the result in Ledbetter (this one, for example) and the court upholds a draconian award against an employer relying on that amendment (this is quite unlikely, concededly, just in terms of pure timerame).

Or for a much more plausible example: imagine if the court has a relatively quiet term, but on the last day of the term, Kennedy joins the four liberals in Parker, declaring that the Second Amendment doesn't encompass an indiidual right to keep and bear arms. If the last decision before election season is a massive victory for liberals, that hollows out the ability of liberals to campaign on the premise that this is a "conservative court."

Lastly, no one is buying the idea that School Cases are a conservative decision. The media's trying hard, but that case was so self-evidently correctly decided that while reasonable minds may disagree with it, I think the electorate as a whole understands the result was demanded by fealty to Brown.

hdhouse said...

Ann Althouse said...
"But 2 conservatives replaced 2 conservatives, so what is different?"

Thank you for clarifying but I disagree with this sentence...what is different is the age factor. These two will be there for 20+ years at least...to keep pace the replacement liberals should be the same.... and that I don't think is healthy for anyone, right or left...

There are good arguments for wisdom and experience and there are also good arguments against "forever" judges.

Fen said...

These two will be there for 20+ years at least...to keep pace the replacement liberals should be the same

Nah, we're going to filibuster any liberal noms under the age of 65..

Good. Goose. Gander. ;)

Roger said...

The Supreme Court has been, is, and will continue to be as much political as legal. The idea of impartial judges acting as philosopher kings is just plain silly. The system works just fine over the long run. The possible improvement I could see would be to impose some kind of age limitation on justices (but, I suppose, it could be argued that impeachment would be the constitutional alternative.)

Would someone tell me where the system is broken? Seriously. Even the confirmation process, while nasty and not particularly productive, serves its purpose, IMO.

Politics simply isnt bean bag, and has gotten more contententious, but it doesnt mean the system is broken.