U.S. Supreme Court

More People ‘Somewhat Confident’ in Supreme Court than Organized Religion

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Americans are more confident in U.S. Supreme Court justices than the people running organized religion, at least when the percentage of poll respondents who are at least “somewhat confident” are considered.

That’s the finding of a new Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll (PDF) released Thursday. Seventy-two percent said Supreme Court decisions have an impact on their daily lives and 74 percent said they were at least somewhat confident in the people running the U.S. Supreme Court. The Associated Press has a story on other poll results.

The respondents were asked for their confidence levels in the people running several institutions. Fifty-eight percent were somewhat confident in the Supreme Court, 13 percent were very confident, and 3 percent were extremely confident. For state courts, 62 percent were somewhat confident, 9 percent were very confident, and 3 percent were extremely confident. By way of contrast, asked about their confidence in the people who run organized religion, 44 percent were somewhat confident, 13 percent were very confident, and 5 percent were extremely confident.

Seventy-eight percent said Supreme Court justices sometimes let their political views influence their decisions. Fifty-six percent said judges should interpret laws broadly, taking into account the broader interests of the nation. Three-fourths said the Constitution is an enduring document that is still relevant today.

The poll also asked about specific legal issues. It found:

• 64 percent supported the right of states to ban the sale of violent video games to young people, an issue currently before the Supreme Court.

• 58 percent said same-sex couples should be entitled to the same government benefits as married couples of the opposite sex, and 52 percent said the government should recognize gay marriages.

• 51 percent said laws limiting gun use infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms.

• 62 percent said a minority’s rights should be protected, even when it means saying no to a majority.

• 70 percent said people should have the right to say what they believe, even if it is deeply offensive to most people.

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