Gallup published a new survey yesterday which found that Chief Justice Roberts is the most popular political figure in public life, more popular than any leader in congress, or the president, or the FED chairman.
Chief Justice John Roberts earns the highest job approval rating of 11 U.S. leaders rated in a Dec. 1-16 Gallup poll with 60% approving of how he is handling his role.
Only two other leaders on the list are reviewed positively by majorities of Americans — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (53%) and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Dr. Anthony Fauci (52%).
That’s cause for concern over at New York Magazine where Eric Levitz suggests Roberts shouldn’t be nearly so popular, especially with Democrats:
During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts has voted to gut the Voting Rights Act, ban limitations on corporate political spending, effectively legalize most forms of political bribery, rewrite the Affordable Care Act in a manner that cost millions of Americans access to Medicaid, restrict the capacity of consumers and workers to sue corporations that abuse them, nullify state-level school-desegregation efforts, sanction partisan gerrymandering, and carve gaping loopholes into Roe v. Wade.
And Roberts nevertheless retains the approval of 55 percent of Democratic voters (along with 57 percent of Republican voters) in Gallup’s new poll…
According to one recent analysis, conservatives are now likely to retain a majority on the Supreme Court into the 2050s. If the Court’s right-wing majority finds that it can continually push the boundaries of conservative judicial activism without undermining its own popular legitimacy, then the consequences for progressivism and popular democracy could be dire.
The idea that progressives who want to pack the court are the last defense of democracy seems a bit under-explored, to say the least. In any case, Levitz writes that there appeared, at least for a moment, to be some hope that Roe v Wade would be the last stand for Roberts’ popularity. Gallup showed approval for the Supreme Court dropping from 49 percent down to 40 percent after the court decided not to block a Texas law aimed at limiting abortion to around six weeks. But that poll was taken in September. Now here we are just a few months later and Chief Justice Roberts’ popularity seems to have rebounded. To Levitz, that suggests the previous poll was an outlier.
Ultimately, it’s not clear that it matters. Levitz suggests, rather glumly, that even if progressives turned on the Supreme Court, there’s not much they can do about the current direction because packing the court is also very unpopular.
In other words: Even if the Court overreaches on abortion and forfeits its popular support, the conservative judicial project is likely to endure. And given Roberts’s current poll numbers, it’s not even clear that Roe’s invalidation will durably erode public reverence for the judiciary.
What’s revealing about this piece is that it pretty clearly lays out what progressives are hoping for at this moment. What they’d like to see is the court becoming much more politicized by the left to either a) put pressure on CJ Roberts to side with the left as he’s done in the past or b) build enough partisan backlash that packing the court becomes a realistic possibility.
The bad news as Levitz sees it is that, at least for now, taking an extreme measure often used by autocrats in places like Venezuela to secure power is very unpopular. Thus America is stuck with the court as presently constituted. Sadly, there’s not much hope for a judicial coup so long as CJ Roberts remains more popular than the left-wing extremists advocating that approach.