June 22, 2011

Judicial Review

50 vs. 45

Public opinion is divided about how the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution.

The public is roughly split on how the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution when determining their rulings. Half of Americans (50%) say the Supreme Court’s rulings should be based on its understanding of what the U.S. Constitution means in current times, while about as many (45%) say rulings should be based on the Court’s understanding of what the Constitution meant as originally written. The question, however, produces sharp ideological divisions. While 70% of Republicans say the Constitution should be interpreted as originally written, two-thirds of Democrats (65%) say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution means today. Fully 79% of Tea Party supporters say the Constitution should be interpreted as originally written. Younger Americans (ages 18-29) are more likely to say the Constitution should be interpreted with reference to current times while adults ages 65 and older are more likely to say it should be interpreted as it was originally written. College graduates are also more likely than others to say the interpretation should be based on the Constitution’s modern-day meaning as 57% say this, compared with 49% of those with some college experience and 46% of those who have not attended college. Read More