Positive opinion of the US Supreme Court rose in the last week after the Court issued two widely anticipated opinions: one supporting the workplace rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender people, and the other on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
In the latter case, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s argument to end the program. While Republican approval in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll declined following the rulings (68% to 51%), most Republicans continue to approve of the Court. Democratic approval soared (30% to 56%).
Independents also became slightly more positive after the decisions.
The 5-4 DACA decision, which left the program in place at least for now, has the approval of the overall public — though a plurality of Republicans (48%) disapprove. The other decision, the 6-3 vote ensuring workplace rights for gays, lesbians, and transgender Americans, gets more support. Two-thirds of the public (65%), as well as half of Republicans (52%), approve.
The two decisions happened because GOP-appointed justices joined the Court’s four liberal justices to keep DACA and determine that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s use of the word “sex” included lesbians, gays, and transgender people. Chief Justice John Roberts joined both decisions, Justice Neil Gorsuch, the first appointee of President Donald Trump, joined the gay rights decision.
Both Justices have seen shifts in partisan opinion of them since February, the last time Americans were asked to rate each individual Justice in Economist/YouGov Polls. GOP opinion of Gorsuch as is still positive, though by a smaller margin than at the start of March. Democrats have shifted in a positive direction, though they remain more unfavorable than favorable.
Public opinion of Roberts has fluctuated over time, following key court decisions. Today, Democrats are positive, while Republicans are very closely divided. Three months ago, Republicans gave Roberts an overwhelmingly positive evaluation.
While just under half the public approves of the Supreme Court, the judicial branch fares better in the opinions of Americans than the other two branches of government. This week, the president’s approval rating is 40 percent with 53 percent disapproval, and public opinion of Congress is far worse. Just 19 percent of Americans approve of how Congress is handling its job.