August 2, 2013

Since end-of-term rulings, a significant decrease in Supreme Court favorability among blacks


A much smaller percentage of African Americans view the Supreme Court favorably after the end of the recent term than in March.

The Supreme Court’s standing with the public has hit its lowest point in nearly 30 years, with just 48% of Americans having a favorable view of the court, and 38% having an unfavorable one, according to our mid-July survey. Public opinion of the Supreme Court has been declining for some time, but favorability fell noticeably following the court’s end-of-term decisions.

The most significant decline was among African Americans who, in the span of four months, went from having a majority of people who gave the court a favorable rating to having the smallest percentage with a positive view. In March, a majority of blacks (61%) had a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court and just 24% had an unfavorable opinion. But the latest survey showed a sharp change: just 44% of blacks had a favorable opinion of the court, while 41% had an unfavorable opinion.

The percentage of whites giving the court a favorable rating stayed the same (49%) between both surveys, and the percentage rating the court unfavorably increased by just two percentage points to 37%.

The trend among Hispanic respondents was closer to that of blacks. The percentage of Hispanics positively rating the Supreme Court decreased from 58% to 51%. The percentage giving the court a negative rating rose from 25% to 37%.

The court’s controversial 5-4 decision to strike down a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act may have been a factor in shifting public opinion. Before the decision, a Pew Research survey identified racial differences in public interest in the court’s end-of-term rulings. A majority (56%) of blacks said they were “very interested” in the Supreme Court’s decision on voting rights. Just 32% of whites said the same.

Category: Daily Number

  1. is a former editorial intern at the Pew Research Center.