SCOTUS observers see trouble ahead as public approval of justices erodes

A Gallup poll released last week said Americans’ opinions of the Supreme Court have dropped to a new low, with only 40 percent approving of the justices’ job performance. “At this point, less than a majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents approve of the job the court is doing,” said Gallup, which has been tracking the trend since 2000.

A recent survey by Marquette University Law School documented the same dramatic drop. Its numbers showed public approval sliding from 60 percent in July to 49 percent in September.

Those weeks are usually quiet at the court, with justices on summer recess. But in emergency decisions in August and September, the court ruled against two Biden administration initiatives, ending a nationwide eviction moratorium and reimposing an abandoned immigration policy. And in a bitter 5 to 4 split that sparked controversy and prompted congressional action, the court allowed to take effect a Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, while legal challenges to it continue.

Those late summer rulings apparently came with a cost. “Whatever people might have seen as moderation on the court over the past year was followed by these three rulings, right in a row and close together, that all took a conservative tilt,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette poll, in explaining the drop in approval.