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.