Is the US Supreme Court Popular?

    10 August 2020

    At a time when other branches of government are relatively unpopular in the United States, public approval of the Supreme Court has risen.

    A new public opinion study shows that public approval of the high court is at its highest level in more than 10 years.

    The Gallup research company released the findings on Wednesday. It found that 58 percent of Americans approve of the way the Supreme Court is doing its job. The court's approval rating has been around 50 percent for many years.

    The current approval rating is much higher than the other two branches of the federal government: the president and Congress. The most recent Gallup surveys found that about 41 percent of Americans approve of the job done by the president while 18 percent approve of the way Congress is doing its job.

    The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Nov. 30, 2018.
    The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Nov. 30, 2018.

    The Supreme Court has nine members. The court is currently split between five conservative justices and four liberals.

    Its five to four rulings on politically charged issues receive the most attention. But many of the court's decisions are reached unanimously or with six or more justices ruling in agreement.

    Gallup researchers completed questioning for the latest survey between July 1 and 23. It followed one of the most consequential Supreme Court terms in recent years. During that time, the justices ruled in a series of important cases.

    The court dismissed an attempt by the administration of President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program. It also ruled against a Louisiana anti-abortion law, and expanded anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers.

    In addition, the court ruled that states cannot bar religious schools from receiving financial aid meant for private schools. It decided that Catholic school teachers cannot launch legal action against their employers for discrimination. And, it ruled that employers are not required to provide birth control in their employees' health plans.

    July 9 was the final day of the Supreme Court's term. The justices ruled on subpoenas for President Trump's financial records. The court ruled that Trump is not immune from a New York state investigation into his finances. But the justices blocked efforts by Congress to get the business records of the president and his family.

    Gabe Roth is executive director of the not-for-profit group Fix the Court. He said Americans often base their ideas of the court on only a few well-known cases. He added that Americans often ignore many other actions that receive little or no attention.

    I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

    Masood Farivar reported this story for VOANews. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    branch – n. a division or part of a large, complex organization

    unanimously – adv. done without disagreement, with all in agreement

    consequential – adj. important

    LGBTQ – adj.(acronym) describing people with non-traditional sexual identities (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-sexual, Queer)

    subpoena – n. (legal) a court order requiring that evidence be provided

    immune – adj. to have protection from something that is required of most people by law

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