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1/3 of Americans open to abolishing Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 10, 2020. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/TNS)
October 06, 2021

A third of Americans are open to the idea of abolishing the Supreme Court altogether, according to a new poll released Monday.

Among the 1,008 participants surveyed between September 7-12 by Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania, 34% of respondents said “it might be better to do away with the court altogether” if the court “started making a lot of rulings that most Americans disagreed with.”

In 2019 when the last poll was conducted, just 20% of respondents had agreed with abolishing the Court. Previous responses to the same question posed from 2005 and 2018 had ranged between 17% and 23%.

Additionally, 38% of Americans said they would support Congress forbidding the Supreme Court to make rulings on certain issues or topics when Congress disagrees with the court’s ruling.

In 2019, just 28% had agreed with restricting the Supreme Court. Between 23% and 23% had agreed in polls taken during 2007-2013.

APPC Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson said that “Respect for judicial independence appears to be eroding.”

“The willingness of more than 1 in 3 Americans to entertain the idea of abolishing the court or stripping jurisdiction from it is alarming,” Jamieson added.

The poll also found that “a sizable number of Americans misunderstood other basic facts about government.” A third of respondents said that Supreme Court decisions are given final review in federal court of appeals or Congress, while 61% were aware that Supreme Court decisions are “the decision is the law and needs to be followed.”

The poll matches the sentiment of Americans found in other polls in recent months.

A Gallup poll released September 23 found that Americans’ opinions of the Supreme Court declined to a new low over the past two decades, with only 40% approving of the Court, down from 49% in July. The sentiment changed little between political parties, with 36% percent of Democrats saying they approved of the Court, and 45% of Republicans approving.

A Quinnipiac poll released September 15 also found that just 37 percent of respondents approved of the Supreme Court handling its job, marking the lowest approval rating in the poll’s history.