Americans’ job approval rating of the Supreme Court fell slightly to 42% in July, tying the low point in Gallup’s 16-year trend. Democrats are still much more likely than Republicans to approve of the court, but the party gap has narrowed.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 42% job approval rating is down slightly from September and matches the low point in Gallup’s 16-year trend, recorded in June 2005. The Supreme Court’s approval ratings have not been above 50% since September 2010.
The latest results are from a July 13-17 Gallup poll. Although the current approval rating ties the historical low, it is not a major departure from updates over the last five years, when approval has ranged between 43% and 49% — including 45% when Gallup last measured it, in September 2015.
The Supreme Court recently concluded its 2015-2016 term, with eight justices serving since the death of Antonin Scalia in February and no progress made toward confirming Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy. As a result, the shorthanded court deadlocked on several potentially important decisions, upholding previous lower court rulings. One of the more significant decisions of the term was the court’s ruling allowing colleges to continue to consider an applicant’s racial or ethnic background as a factor in admissions decisions. Americans widely disapproved of that decision.
The prior low Supreme Court job approval rating came in June 2005, just after a court decision to permit governments to use the power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes. Approval of the Supreme Court fell to 42% immediately after that decision was announced, from 51% in the prior measurement. That proved to be a short-term decline, however, with approval back to 56% in Gallup’s next update in September 2005.
Although the current approval rating ties the previous low, the 52% of Americans now disapproving of the Supreme Court is the highest in the trend. The prior high disapproval rating was 50% last September.