Most Americans say they support each of the two major Supreme Court rulings issued late last week, and nearly four in 10 now say they view the Court as too liberal.
According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 63% support the Court’s ruling upholding government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-run health insurance exchanges. Slightly fewer, 59%, say they back the ruling which made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.
Support for each ruling is sharply divided by party, with most Democrats and independents behind both, and most Republicans opposed to both.
Democrats are more apt to say they back the ruling on the 2010 health care law sometimes referred to as Obamacare – 79% back it – than they are to support the same-sex marriage decision, of which 70% favor. Among Republicans, 54% said they oppose the ruling on health care, while 59% oppose the ruling on same-sex marriage, not a statistically-significant difference. Among independents, 63% support each ruling.
The 37% of Americans who say they see the Court as too liberal is the highest share to say so in CNN polling dating back to 1993. Fewer, 20%, say they feel the Court is too conservative and 40% see it as about right.
In a CNN/ORC poll in 2012, just after the Court issued its first ruling upholding part of the health care law, 30% said they felt the Court was too liberal, 22% that it was too conservative.
Republicans are most apt in the new poll to say the Court’s ideology is too far to the left: 69% see the Court as too liberal. That’s up from 2012, when 59% of Republicans called it too liberal.
Among Democrats, 34% now say they see the Court as too conservative and 15% too liberal, 49% say the Court is about right. In 2012, just 6% of Democrats described the Court as too liberal, but the share calling it too conservative was about the same at 35%.
The new poll was completed before the Court issued rulings on Monday on the legality of a lethal injection drug, the use of independent commissions for redistricting and EPA regulations on power plant emissions.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion both times the Court has ruled on the 2010 health care law, is a bit of a mystery to the public. About two-thirds of adults, 64%, say they don’t know enough to say where Roberts falls ideologically. But those who do rate him are split between whether he is “more conservative than you would like” or “not conservative enough,” with 10% taking each side. Another 15% say his views are about right, ideologically.
In September 2005, before Roberts was confirmed by the Senate, a CBS News/New York Times poll found just 2% of adults thought Roberts was not conservative enough, 14% that he was more conservative than they’d prefer and 22% felt he was about right.
Roberts, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, has made a somewhat more clear impression among Republicans: 23% say he’s not conservative enough, just 12% that he’s about right and only 3% that he’s more conservative than they’d like.
The Court’s rulings were part of a week packed with victories for Obama, including Congressional approval of fast-track authority for trade deals. The poll found that Obama’s approval ratings overall and for handling the economy and race relations were on the rise, but several other issues tested in the poll found Obama deeply in negative territory.