(Week of 6/30/2012) In early April, just after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 41% of Republicans said the Supreme Court was the branch of government they trusted the most, far exceeding the percentage that picked Congress, the President, or the political parties. This week, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that the ACA was mostly constitutional, the percentage of Republicans who said the Court was the institution they trust the most dropped by 20%.
There were only small gains recorded for the other institutions (though the percentage of Republicans naming the political parties rose from 4% to 12%). Over half of the Republicans in this week’s poll answered "don’t know" to this question.
Democratic support for the Court changed little. In both polls, nearly half of Democrats trust the President more than any other major part of the federal government.
Overall, the percentage naming the Court as the institution they trusted the most dropped eight points, from 25% in April to 17% now. Then, it was tied with the President as most trusted branch; now the President holds a seven-point lead.
In recent polls, Americans have said they believe the Court can be influenced by partisan politics. Democrats have generally been more likely than Republicans to believe that. But now, after the ACA decision, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that politics is the more important factor affecting Supreme Court decision-making.
Still, there has been relatively little change in whether Americans think the Court uses its power to strike down laws too much or too little. A plurality of Americans continues to believe that the Court uses its prinicple power at about the right amount.
And whatever the damage to its reputation as a result of the ACA ruling, the Court is still looked upon with much less suspicion than the other branches of the government. For example, just 6% of respondents say the Court is the institution they trust the least. More choose Congress, the President and the parties.
Photo source: Press Association