The trust that Americans have in the United States Supreme Court has decreased sharply over the last decade, according to a new poll from the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Results found that 53% of Americans have "little” or “no trust” in how the court handles the best interests of the American people. The results also reflected growing perceptions that justices have recently become less impartial and more analogous to politicians, with rates increasing from 35% in 2019 to 50% this year.
The Public Policy Center, which has polled Americans about the Court for over a decade and a half, conducted the survey two months after the overturning of the Roe v. Wade ruling. This year, a large chasm separated Democrats and Independents — with 21% and 38% court approval rates, respectively — from Republicans in the survey, who had a 68% approval rate.
91% of respondents said that the most essential quality of a judge was being “fair and impartial,” and 75% of those who felt the court has an ideological tilt said that it is detrimental to the government.
However, the survey also found that more Americans are viewing the court as a politically biased institution. 36% of respondents said that they see the court as generally conservative — an increase of 17 points since 2019.
Public Policy Director Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson said in a press release that this could have negative consequences for the judicial system.
“Whether the perceptions registered in our survey are justified or not, they are worrisome,” Jamieson said. “For the court to play its role in our system of government, it is important that it be perceived to be an independent branch that impartially and fairly bases its decisions on the Constitution, the law, and the facts of the case.”
In 2019, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts also expressed concern about polarization and stated that the Supreme Court remains impartial.
“When you live in a polarized environment, people tend to see everything in those terms,” Roberts said. “That’s not how we at the court function, and the results in our case do not suggest otherwise.”
The findings from the Public Policy Center are similar to results from other similar surveys. A Gallup poll found that 47% of Americans have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in the court — the lowest the number has been in more than five decades. The poll also reported a record-tying-low approval rating of 40% and a record-high disapproval rating of 58%.