Morning Consult: Opposition to court-packing near 2:1 ... and growing

Morning Consult: Opposition to court-packing near 2:1 ... and growing
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The full-court press by progressive Democrats to pack the Supreme Court has had an impact on public opinion. It’s just not the one they wanted. A new poll out from Morning Consult reveals that opposition to adding seats to the court remains near 2:1 among those with any opinion — and has grown a bit among Democrats:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distanced herself last week from a Democratic bill that would add four seats to the Supreme Court, and a new Morning Consult/Politico poll helps to explain why she was quick to nip the plan in the bud: The idea is still broadly unpopular among the American electorate.

In the April 16-19 survey, voters were 20 percentage points more likely, at 46 percent, to say Congress should only allow nine justices to serve on the high court than they were to be in favor of passing a law to add more Supreme Court jurists.

Those numbers were essentially unchanged from a Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted in the fall, reflecting a continued lack of public appetite for what has been an increasing source of interest for liberal activists since Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky blocked consideration of Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s appointee to the court, in 2016.

What’s remarkable about this is how little public opinion has changed since the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in replacement of progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Morning Consult charts both polls at the link, but the only significant change since then is that Democratic opposition went up from 25% to 28%. In no party-demographic category did support go up. For that matter, no party-demo group showed an increase at all — even marginal — in support of the idea.

The months-long campaign to pack the court has been an utter flop, even with the party base. Democrats’ support for the idea doesn’t even get to a majority, although they are the only demo in which support outstrips opposition, 43/28. That’s the same 43% as six months ago in the heat of the Barrett confirmation process and just before the election. Independents are markedly unimpressed at 17/47, down from 20/46 last fall.

Surely, readers might ask, there must be some demo in which court-packing enjoys majority support? According to the crosstabs, there is one — and literally only one — demo where the idea reaches 50% support. Among those who strongly approve of Joe Biden’s job so far, it gets support at … 50/27. It’s only at 48/26 among those who are personally favorable toward Biden, 40/29 among those who voted for Biden, and only at 36/22 among black voters — even though court-packers explicitly frame this as a quest to appoint at least one black woman to the Supreme Court. It’s a disaster, even with months of campaigning in support of this radical policy.

Interestingly, as of this writing, Morning Consult’s partner Politico has yet to report on these findings. Perhaps the news here is so bad that the results just speak for themselves. However, Democrats who fail to recognize the political danger in pushing this radical goal will end up discovering just how badly they miscalculated when Republicans use it to beat them in the next midterms. This is precisely why Pelosi put the immediate kibosh on the bill, and why Jerry Nadler retreated from it a bit yesterday. It’s that bad.

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023