Most approve of last week's Supreme Court decisions

July 02, 2015, 4:14 PM GMT+0

Most Americans back the Supreme Court's decisions to legalize same sex marriage and to protect federal exchange subsidies

Americans approve of the two major decisions made by the Supreme Court last week, but they continue to view the two issues differently: there is majority support for a national right to same-sex marriage, but Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll are still not convinced that the Affordable Care Act is working or is the right thing for the country.

Americans support the Court’s decision in King v. Burwell that those who purchased health insurance on the federal exchange could still receive federal subsidies, despite the wording in one section of the law that restricted those subsidies to insurance purchased on “State” exchanges. But just about four in ten continue to judge Obamacare as a failure, and only 28% call it a success. And while in the last year the percentage wanting to keep or expand the law has been generally larger than the percentage wanting to repeal it, there will continue to be attempts to overturn or de-fund the law.

Four in ten overall, and three-quarters of Republicans would support those efforts to de-fund the program. Nearly half think that the intense battles to eliminate the law have been worth it, even though the ACA so far has survived two appeals to the Supreme Court.

Fewer than one in four Republicans say the effort to eliminate the ACA was not worth it, and even fewer Republicans want their party’s Members of Congress to stop trying to de-fund or otherwise eliminate it. A majority of Republicans disapproved of the Court’s decision.

While controversy also will likely continue in last week’s other major Court decision that legalized same sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, there is a more supportive public for that principle than there is for Obamacare. Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, and a majority of Americans favor it. Four in ten Americans oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally – and nearly a third strongly opposed, though more are strongly in favor.

The opposition to legal same-sex marriage is both partisan and generational. Two-thirds of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, as does a majority of those 65 and older. Two in three Democrats and adults under 30 are in favor.

Some of the opposition is clearly religious: 57% of those who say religion is very important to them oppose the ruling (a third approve). Among Catholics, there is a close division with nearly half approving. There is more support in the Northeast and West than there is in the Midwest and South.

But same-sex marriage has already become part of the American landscape. 44% say they know a gay or lesbian married couple. More than half of those with higher incomes and half of women do, but only 29% of African-Americans say they know a gay or lesbian couple that is married. Those who know a same-sex married couple approve of the Court’s ruling by two to one.

While many people know a same-sex married couple, only 7% have attended a same-sex wedding. Three times as many Democrats (11%) as Republicans (3%) and eight times as many liberals (16%) as conservatives (2%) have done so.

As for those who have not attended a same-sex wedding, more say they would do so – if they were asked – than say they would not. But that’s not the case for Republicans and conservatives, majorities of whom would not. Neither would those who believe religion is very important to them. Half of Catholics would attend such a wedding, even though only 8% have.

See the full poll results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.