SCOTUSPoll 2023: Views of landmark rulings in Griswold, Loving, Lawrence, and Obergefell

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
June 09, 2023, 12:54 PM GMT+0

A new poll reveals that majorities of Americans support each of four Supreme Court decisions from the past six decades that protect personal freedoms.

The 2023 SCOTUSPoll, conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with YouGov, gauged American attitudes about major cases in front of the court. It also asked about four landmark Supreme Court cases: Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Loving v. Virginia (1967), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Majority support for the rulings in these four cases demonstrates widespread endorsement of the following: prohibition of racial discrimination in marriages, the right of couples to use contraception, the decriminalization of homosexual conduct, and the recognition of same-sex marriages. (An Economist/YouGov poll in July 2022 also found majority support for each of Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell, while using different question wording; another poll conducted the same month found majority support for Congress establishing each of these three decisions, as well as Loving, as law.)

Griswold v. Connecticut

The 1965 Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which safeguarded a couple's constitutional right to use contraception, also receives widespread support. Eight in 10 Americans (80%) believe in upholding this right. Consensus stretches across the political spectrum, with similarly high levels of support among Democrats (78%), Republicans (80%), and Independents (81%).

Loving v. Virginia

American support for the court's decision in Loving v. Virginia — the 1967 ruling that disallowed states from preventing interracial marriages — is strong: 81% of Americans believe states should not have the power to prevent two people of different races from marrying one another. This view is held by majorities of Democrats (79%), Republicans (81%), and Independents (83%).

Lawrence v. Texas

Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 ruling that deemed it unconstitutional to punish people for engaging in homosexual conduct, receives the support of 69% of Americans, who say they agree with the court's ruling that states should not be permitted to penalize such conduct. Majorities of Democrats (68%), Republicans (62%), and Independents (74%) agree with this ruling.

Obergefell v. Hodges

In contrast to the clear majority support for the other three precedents asked about, American opinion is more divided on Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 verdict mandating states to recognize same-sex marriages. While 54% of Americans believe states should be required to continue acknowledging same-sex marriages, 46% think states should be allowed to refuse to recognize such marriages. Democrats (66%) are twice as likely as Republicans (31%) to support requiring the recognition of same-sex marriages.

— The SCOTUSPoll project is led by Stephen Jessee, University of Texas at Austin; Neil Malhotra, Stanford University; and Maya Sen, Harvard University

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on April 5 - 11, 2023 among 2,029 U.S. adults. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample was selected to be representative of all U.S. residents. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 presidential vote, and registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the American Community Survey. The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 2%.

Image: Adobe Stock (trekandphoto)