Americans: Alright to Oppose Supreme Court Nominee Over Judicial Philosophy

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 19, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Americans: Alright to Oppose Supreme Court Nominee Over Judicial Philosophy

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 19
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — A new poll of American voters shows a majority believe it is alright for senators to oppose a Supreme Court nominee based on the potential jurist’s judicial philosophy. The results of the new Rasmussen survey are important as President Barack Obama prepares to select a high court nominee.

The names of potential nominees considered to be on Obama’s short list include people like Elena Kagan and Diane Wood — two solid abortion advocates.

The new Rasmussen poll, out today, shows 56 percent of voters say it is fair for a senator to oppose a legally and professionally qualified nominee on the grounds of ideology or judicial philosophy while just 29 percent say otherwise and 15 percent are unsure.

While 65% of Republicans and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party think ideology and judicial philosophy are legitimate grounds for opposition, Democrats are more closely divided as 45% agree, but 37% think it’s not fair to oppose nominees on those grounds.

Voters believe Obama will select another liberal to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens — with 45 percent saying that justices nominated by Obama will be too liberal, while 41% say the nominee will be fine. Very few Americans think Obama will nominate a conservative to the high court.

The Rasmussen poll also showed 52% of voters believe that, in picking someone to serve on the Supreme Court, a nominee’s legal background is more important than ensuring a court that is as diverse as American society. But 36% think ensuring a diverse court is more important.

Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) and a plurality (49%) of unaffiliated voters say a nominee’s legal background is more important.

The poll also found 39 percent of voters believe the Supreme Court is already too liberal with 25 percent saying it is too conservative and 27 percent saying it is just right.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen commented on the results: "Voters have consistently and overwhelmingly said in national surveys that justices should make their decisions based on what’s written in the U.S. Constitution and on legal precedents rather than on a sense of fairness and justice. But voters also tend to think Obama believes the court should rule on the basis of fairness and justice."

Obama said he would seek a nominee with “an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people.”

Leading candidates to replace Stevens include pro-abortion Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate judges Merrick Garland, 57, in Washington and pro-abortion Diane Wood, 59, in Chicago.

Others who might be considered include two Democratic governors, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, and State Department legal adviser Harold Koh. All three are ardent abortion advocates.

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