CNN Poll Shows Americans Want Conservative, Moderate Supreme Court Justice

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

CNN Poll Shows Americans Want Conservative, Moderate Supreme Court Justice

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 20
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — When President Barack Obama names a replacement for retiring pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens, a new poll shows a majority of Americans want someone with a different judicial philosophy. However, Obama will likely side with just one-fourth of Americans who want another pro-abortion liberal.

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll released Tuesday showed 37 percent of adult Americans want Obama to nominate someone with a "moderate" judicial temperament.

Another 36 percent want a new Supreme Court justice with "conservative" political views.

But just 25 percent of Americans say they would prefer a new justice with either somewhat or very liberal tendencies of the kind that produced the Roe v. Wade decision and 52 million abortions.

The poll comes as Obama is searching for a replacement and he is reportedly looking at a list of about 10 people, with abortion advocates toping the list. Judge Diane Wood and Solicitor General Elena Kagan are two of the top potential abortion advocates Obama may name to replace Stevens.

The new survey comes on the heels of another poll showing a majority believe it is alright for senators to oppose a Supreme Court nominee based on the potential jurist’s judicial philosophy.

The new Rasmussen poll from Monday showed 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.

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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