Poll: 80% of Americans Want Supreme Court Justice Who Views Constitution Just Like Antonin Scalia

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 9, 2017   |   1:04PM   |   Washington, DC

A new poll conducted by The Marist Poll has found overwhelming support for the swift nomination of a Supreme Court justice who will apply the constitution as originally written in the same way as the late pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia. Majorities of Americans also support interpreting the constitution as originally intended and quick action to protect religious freedom.

According to the survey, 80 percent say it is an “immediate priority” or an “important” one to appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the constitution as it was originally written. This includes 56 percent who say such an appointment is an “immediate priority.” Fifty-three percent of Independents, 80 percent of Republicans and more than four in 10 Democrats (42 percent) also say it is an “immediate priority.”

By 12 percentage points, a majority of Americans (52 percent versus 40 percent) want the court to interpret the constitution “as it was originally written” and not on what they think the “constitution means now.” Independents agree (50 percent to 42 percent), as do Republicans (78 percent to 18 percent). Even three in 10 Democrats share this opinion (31 percent), and about six in 10 do not (59 percent).

Almost 9 in 10 Americans (89 percent) also see protecting religious freedom as a priority, including 57 percent who describe it as an “immediate priority” and 32 percent who consider it an “important” one.  The issue is embraced in a completely bi-partisan manner.  Fifty-one percent of Independents, 55 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans concur that this is an “immediate priority.”

Those numbers are important given key Supreme Court cases like Hobby Lobby and the Little Sitters of the Poor — groups that were forced to pay for abortions for their employees in their health insurance plans. Other potential Supreme Court suits involve doctors and pregnancy centers forced to perform abortions or refer for them.

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By 40 points, the vast majority of Americans also believe religious freedom should be protected even when it conflicts with government laws (65 percent to 25 percent). Strong majorities of Republicans (74 percent), Independents (63 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) agree.

“Majorities of Americans – regardless of party – have embraced religious freedom and have rightly rejected the false notion that it is something negative. They overwhelming support the protection of our first freedom, the free exercise of religion,” said Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, which commissioned the poll.

“And not surprisingly, most Americans value the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and therefore see as an immediate priority the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the document as written.”

Despite the polling, Democrats have already promised to attempt to block a pro-life nominee.

This survey of 2,729 adults was conducted December 12th through December 19th, 2016 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with The Knights of Columbus. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within ±1.9 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.