By Dana Blanton
Published April 12, 2012
FILE - In this March 28, 2012 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington. (AP)
A majority of American voters think President Obama’s recent comments about the Supreme Court were an attempt to intimidate the justices as they decide the constitutionality of one his biggest accomplishments -- the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In addition, the voters -- unlike the president -- want the high court to either overturn the new health care law completely or at least invalidate the individual mandate.
That’s according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.
A 56 percent majority of voters think the president was trying to intimidate the Supreme Court when he publicly commented on the health care case and referred to the justices as “an unelected group of people.” Forty percent disagree. Most Republicans (81 percent), a majority of independents (61 percent) and more than a quarter of Democrats (29 percent) believe Obama was trying to strong-arm the justices.
Most voters want at least part of the law overturned. Some 42 percent think the Supreme Court should toss out the whole law, while 24 percent take the middle ground and think the court should keep most of it but rule the mandate for Americans to buy health insurance as unconstitutional. About one voter in four thinks the court should uphold the law as is (27 percent).
Democrats (50 percent) are twice as likely as independents (24 percent) and 10 times as likely as Republicans (5 percent) to want health care law upheld entirely.
In addition, Republican support for invalidating the entire law (70 percent) is significantly greater than support among Democrats for keeping it intact (50 percent).
Among independents, the largest number -- 44 percent -- think the court should overturn the law completely, and another 26 percent want the individual mandate thrown out. One in four wants the court to keep the law as is (24 percent).
There’s widespread concern that if the court were to uphold the requirement to buy health insurance it would mean the government could require people to buy other things. Fully 71 percent of voters are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned by what this would mean going forward.
The Supreme Court has the best job rating of the three branches of government. Overall, 48 percent of voters approve, while 33 percent disapprove. The remaining 19 percent are unsure.
For comparison, 42 percent approve of President Obama’s job performance and 12 percent approve of Congress.
Republicans (52 percent) and independents (52 percent) are more likely to approve of the Supreme Court’s job performance than Democrats (43 percent).
Not only does the Supreme Court receive a higher approval rating than the other branches of government, but it’s also the most trusted.
Some 43 percent of voters say they trust the judicial branch the most, up from 33 percent who felt that way in 2005. The court is followed by the executive branch at 27 percent and the legislative branch trails at 15 percent. Eleven percent of voters say they don’t trust any of the branches.
In 2005, the last time this question was asked in a Fox News poll, 3 percent said they trusted all three branches of government. That’s zero today.
Despite the Supreme Court being the most trusted branch of government, by a wide margin more voters think politics will play a role in the outcome of the health care case (67 percent) than think it will be decided solely on the legal arguments (26 percent).
Majorities of Democrats (72 percent), independents (65 percent) and Republicans (62 percent) expect the court’s decision to be influenced by partisanship.
In general, nearly half of voters -- 45 percent -- think the Supreme Court’s decisions are “about right” ideologically. Some 26 percent say the court is “too liberal” in its decisions, while 21 percent say “too conservative.”
Current views on the court’s ideological leanings have remained mostly unchanged in recent years. However, looking back almost a decade, fewer than 37 percent thought Supreme Court’s decisions were “about right,” while 30 percent said “too liberal” and 20 percent “too conservative” (July 2003).
Setting aside the constitutional issues, by a 53-to-40 percent margin voters oppose the health care law. That’s mostly the same as two years ago, when it was 54 percent opposed and 39 percent in favor (April 2010).
And many believe things would be different today if lawmakers had actually read the more than 2,000-page health care bill. Fifty-five percent of voters think the law would have failed if every member of Congress had read the full bill before voting on it.
The Fox News poll is based on land-line and cell phone interviews with 910 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 9 to April 11. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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