Ketanji Brown Jackson is viewed favorably by more Americans than current Supreme Court justices

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
March 23, 2022, 6:26 PM GMT+0

Americans of both parties expect that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be confirmed as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. If President Joe Biden’s choice is confirmed by the Senate, she could even become the most popular of all the Justices. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, she is viewed more positively than any sitting justice was when we last asked.

Many Americans (41%) have a favorable view of Jackson, while 24% view her unfavorably. Republicans are more likely to have a negative opinion: 19% of them are favorable, 47% are not. The overall public assessment of the newly-nominated judge stands in contrast to the evaluations of each of the nine sitting justices, as measured in a February Economist/YouGov Poll. No justice’s favorable rating then was as high as Jackson’s is now, and all but two (Stephen Breyer, whom Jackson was nominated to replace, and Samuel Alito), had higher unfavorable evaluations.

By 59% to 20%, Americans support the president’s vow to name a black woman to the Court, which he fulfilled by picking Jackson. Democrats overwhelmingly support this, by 81% to 5%, while Republicans are closely split, 38% to 40%. The political divide is narrower on having someone with experience as a public defender on the Court. By 57% to 16%, Americans support appointing someone with experience in that role. Democrats support it by 81% to 5%, while more Republicans support it than don’t (41% to 28%).

Opinions of who sits on the Supreme Court are subject to the same sharp party differences that exist today. Democrats (72% to 8%) and Independents (40% to 30%) approve of the appointment of Jackson to the Court; only 16% of Republicans approve and 63% do not. Overall, more Americans think Judge Jackson should be confirmed by the Senate than don’t (42% to 26%), but only 13% of Republicans think she should and about half (52%) don’t. By 46% to 14%, Americans expect she will sit on the Court; 40% are unsure. Republicans are about in line with the overall view on this: 41% say Jackson will be confirmed and 21% disagree.

Opinion on Jackson is in line with Americans’ views of the last four justices who joined the Court, based on similar polls conducted at the start of their confirmation hearings: She is about as supported, seen as qualified by about as many Americans, and seen as moderate by more of them — with the predictable partisan splits by party of the appointing president.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between March 19 - 22, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.