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Americans Want Revelations from Supreme Court Nominees, Poll Finds

Posted Sep 23, 2010 11:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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More than two-thirds of Americans think the Supreme Court is crucial for success of the country, but they have differing opinions on their ideal justice. And they are decidedly nosy about the nominees.

A majority of Americans think Supreme Court nominees should have to answer a variety of questions, ranging from inquiries about their personal lives to how they would have voted in past cases, according to a new Harris poll.

The breakdown: Eighty-one percent said nominees should be required to answer questions on specific issues; 63 percent said they should have to say how they would vote in specific court cases, both past cases and hypothetical ones; and 54 percent said they should be required to answer questions about their personal lives.

Americans apparently value the Supreme Court. Sixty-nine percent said it is a crucial governing body, while 9 percent said decision-making power should reside with state courts. Twenty-two percent weren’t sure.

The poll also asked respondents about their ideal justice. A bare majority—51 percent—said they prefer justices who keep their personal opinions of "right" and "wrong" to themselves, making decisions strictly based on the letter of the law and the Constitution. Thirty-two percent, on the other hand, prefer justices who are independent thinkers, using creativity and an understanding of modern circumstances to inform their legal rulings.

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