Positive Views of the Supreme Court Drop Sharply After Abortion Ruling

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Favorable views of the Supreme Court have dropped since the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, a new Pew Research Center survey found, driven largely by a steep drop in approval among Democrats.

In its 35 years of polling on the court, Pew has never documented a wider partisan gap in views of the institution. In August, just 28% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they view the Supreme Court favorably. That’s the lowest rating Democrats have ever given the court in the poll’s history—18 percentage points lower than in January before the court gutted abortion rights, and almost 40 points lower than in 2020.

Favorable opinions of the court among Republicans, on the other hand, have moderately increased. In January, 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents viewed the court favorably, while 73% said the same in August.

Overall, Pew found the American public is split over the Supreme Court: 48% of the public views the court favorably, while 49% holds an unfavorable view. Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at Pew Research Center, says this is the highest percentage of Americans sharing unfavorable views of the Supreme Court that Pew has documented in more than three decades. In August 2020, for example, Pew found that 70% of Americans held favorable views of the high court.

The survey released Thursday was conducted among 7,647 U.S. adults, including 5,681 registered voters, between August 1 and 14. Nonpartisan Pew Research Center said the intention of the survey was to understand the public view of the high court after its term concluded in June with several high-profile rulings along largely ideological lines, including the overturning of the constitutional right to an abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The portion of Democrats who believe the U.S. Supreme Court has too much power has almost tripled since 2020, and increased by more than 20 points this year alone: 64% percent of Democrats said the court has too much power, compared to 40% in January. The survey found that 45% of U.S. adults overall said the court has too much power, which is 15 points higher than in January. 48% of the public said the court has the “right amount of power” and only 5% said the court does not have enough power.

“We are seeing a shift in a lot of different components of how Americans view the court,” says Kiley. “We see a growing share of Americans saying that the court has too much power. A growing share of Americans also say that they see the court as conservative.”

Pew found Americans’ favorability ratings of the Supreme Court is similar to what it was in 2015, when the high court issued another controversial landmark decision: Obergefell v. Hodges, which extended same-sex couples the right to marriage. In July 2015 after the ruling, Pew found that 48% of Americans had a favorable opinion of the court, while 43% viewed it unfavorably, and 61% of Republicans viewed the court unfavorably. The partisan divide over the Supreme Court is even starker today.

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Write to Madeleine Carlisle at madeleine.carlisle@time.com