A New Poll Shows Most Americans Think Supreme Court Justices Side with Politics Before Impartiality

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 27, 2024

A new study shows that most Americans think Supreme Court justices are guided by politics and their ideology instead of voting with facts and neutrality. The opinions show a worrying trend that the office is losing trust with the public.

The court is experiencing severe growing pains, with several new justices being appointed in the past five years. Many have sided unanimously with former President Donald Trump despite the divisive and controversial issues being favored the opposite way in the public.

Justices Are Meant To Perform Independent Research

Justices on the Supreme Court are meant to hand down neutral decisions on impossible cases.

The exterior of the Supreme Court with a large tree in bloom in the foreground

Source: Bill Mason/Unsplash

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study found that only 3 in 10 Americans think that justices perform the necessary research needed to come to a fair conclusion. Instead, most U.S. adults think that justices vote almost blindly alongside their chosen ideology or to make political peers happy.

A Continued Erosion of Trust in the Supreme Court

In the past few years, the Supreme Court has made several unpopular decisions. While it’s not their job to befriend residents, it’s unfavorable to side with a minority opinion on divisive issues.

A protest with a sign reading "keep abortion legal"

Source: Ethan Gregory Dodge/Unsplash

For instance, when the court overturned Roe v. Wade, politicians, celebrities, and residents came together to protest the decision. Despite most Americans being in favour of abortion care, the implications have had negative effects on women and girls who cannot access life-saving medical care. On top of that, the decision made less women want to have kids in case they face late term pregnancy complications.

Justices Will Vote on Trump Trial Soon

Earlier this month, former Pres. Donald Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records and fraud while using campaign finance laws. However, as a convicted felon, it’s unclear whether he can still run or become elected as president.

Donald Trump looks out of an SUV window

Source: @AngelaWalkr/X

Now, the highest court will decide if Trump is immune from criminal charges over the 2020 reelection defeat when he attempted to have the results overturned by force.

Trump Appointed Justices Often Side With Him

During his four-year term, Trump appointed three new justices to the Supreme Court out of a roster of nine. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett clinched a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.

A woman wearing a pearl necklace and a black blazer

Source: @WordswithSteph/X

Since then, the conservative justices, especially those he appointed, side almost exclusively with his personal ideology. Many think that the justices vote in a way to please former Pres. Trump.

Recent Vote on Bump Stocks Was the First Departure From Trump’s Views

In early June, a case was sent to the highest court for a tough decision. During his term, Trump banned bump stocks from being bought and sold in the U.S. Bump stocks are an accessory for guns to turn them into semi-automatic weapons.

A man holding a machine gun and wearing headphones at an indoor gun range

Source: Logan Weaver/Unsplash

When the case was reentered into the court system, the justices overturned Trump’s earlier ban on the gun accessory, saying that bump stocks do not “alter the basic mechanics of firing.” Although Trump now says he has nothing to do with the ban, it was the first time the Supreme Court sided against the former Republican president. The case does, however, show that the justices continue to side with their politician affiliation.


Many Agree Decisions are Political

Jeff Weddell, a 67-year-old automotive technology sales rep from Macomb County, Michigan, says that the decisions are “very political. There’s no question about that.”

Donald Trump speaking in front of a podium.

Source: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons

“The court’s decision-making is so polluted,” Weddell said. “No matter what they say on President Trump’s immunity, this will be politically motivated.” Weddell plans to vote for Trump in November but thinks the justices may remove him from the docket.


Most Adults Have No Faith the Court System

The poll asked 1,088 adults and found that the vast majority of them have no trust that the Supreme Court justices do any research to come to a fair conclusion.

Supreme Court exterior with trees visible and a flag on a pole

Unsplash user Jimmy Woo

Instead, most people agree that justices take bribes from lobbying groups or vote alongside political parties to gain favor of politicians.


Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Accused of Massive Bribes

Earlier last year, it was uncovered that Justice Clarence Thomas received millions in luxury gifts from Republican lobbyists and large corporations.

Official photograph of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Source: Britannica

Some of the items included a multi-million dollar home for his mother, cruises on Republican billionaire donor Haran Crow’s yacht, flights on private jets, hotel stays, and more. Lawmakers have brushed off the accusations of impropriety, but public opinion of Thomas changed forever.


Republican Voters Don't Sing Their Praises

Although the court votes in a majority conservative opinion, most Republican voters don’t have much faith in the justices either.

9 people wear black judges robes while sitting for a photo together

Source: @joncoppertwee/X

Matt Rogers, a 37-year-old Republican voter from Knoxville, Tennesee, says, “I don’t have a lot of faith in the Supreme Court. And that’s unfortunate because that’s the final say-so, the final check and balance on our three-branch government.” People on both sides of the aisle want to see more checks and balances on the massive decisions being handed down by the courts.


Democrats Are Even More Skeptical of the Court’s Abilities To Make a Fair Decision

About 8 in 10 Democratic voters say that the justices are likely to shape the law to suit their ideology.

Two men at a protest wearing face masks

Source: Jack Prommel/Unsplash

The same people who answered the poll think that many of the court’s toughest decisions, like abortion care and gun control, are made to side with certain political players instead of making fair and rational decisions to improve the lives of Americans.


Justices Use the Court To Skew the Political Environment

Andie Near, a Michigan Democrat, noticed that the court began using their votes as a political tool in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow hearings on Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Source: @usanews0/X

However, in 2017, McConnel allowed hearings after Trump nominated Gorsuch within ten days of taking office. Now, most Americans are stuck living with a system they don’t trust with impartiality.