A significant majority of Americans think Supreme Court justices are influenced more by their personal ideologies than by their role as neutral arbiters of government authority, according to a

new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This sentiment comes as the high court prepares to rule on major cases, including those involving former President Donald Trump.

The poll found that 70% of Americans believe the justices are guided more by ideology, while only about 30% think they provide an independent check on government by being fair and impartial.

This perception reflects a continued decline in confidence in the Supreme Court, which was more trusted a decade ago. The court's composition, with six justices appointed by Republican presidents and three by Democrats, underscores the challenge it faces in being viewed as apolitical.

The justices are soon expected to rule on whether Trump is immune from criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. However, the poll indicates that many Americans already doubt the justices' ability to rule impartially.

Public Confidence in the Supreme Court

The survey of 1,088 adults shows that 40% have little to no confidence in the Supreme Court, a sentiment that has remained steady since an AP-NORC poll in October. This marks a significant drop from early 2022, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade, when only about a quarter of Americans expressed such low confidence.

Even among Republicans, confidence in the court is not overwhelming. While the court has delivered notable victories for Republican priorities, only about half of Republicans express a significant level of confidence in the court's handling of key issues such as gun policy, abortion, elections, and presidential power and immunity.

Republican Perspectives

Republicans are divided on whether the justices are driven by ideology or impartiality. About half believe the justices shape the law to fit their own views, while the other half think they act as an independent check on government power.

Broader Skepticism

Democrats and independents are even more skeptical. Approximately 80% of Democrats and 70% of independents believe the justices are influenced by personal ideology. Many also express little to no confidence in the court’s handling of issues like abortion, gun policy, and presidential power.

Historical Context and Recent Events

The court's perceived politicization has been exacerbated by events such as Senate Republicans blocking hearings for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, only to quickly confirm Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

Poll Details

The poll was conducted from June 20-24, 2024, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree, Wikimedia commons.