2 in 3 favor term limits on US Supreme Court justices: AP-NORC survey

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 2 in 3 Americans say they favor term limits or a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices, according to a new poll showing a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans. The increase has seen them say they have “hardly any” confidence in Supreme Court judges. Court

gave Poll The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 67% of Americans support a proposal to set a certain number of years that judges serve instead of a lifetime, including 82% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans. Views are similar on the requirement that judges retire by a certain age.

The poll comes just weeks after the high court issued high-profile rulings, including ending women’s constitutional protections for abortion and expanding gun rights. The poll also showed that more Americans disapproved of the court’s abortion decision than approved, with just over half saying the decision made them “angry” or “sad.”

The court, now taking a summer break, will return to hearing cases in October amid low confidence among Americans. 43 percent now say they have almost no confidence in the court, up from 27 percent three months ago.

Inez Parker of Currie, North Carolina, said she is among those who strongly support term limits for judges. “I think some of them have been there for a long time. They don’t have new ideas. When you get to a certain age and everything you’re set in your own way, just like me. Stand your ground,” said the 84-year-old Democrat.

Retired justices can “work in their garden, sit on the porch and blow fans or whatever they want to do,” Parker said.

The Constitution gives federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, lifetime tenure, but recently there have been calls for change. A commission commissioned by President Joe Biden to examine possible changes to the Supreme Court studied term limits, among other issues. The commission completed its work last year and its members were ultimately divided on whether they believed Congress had the authority to pass equivalent term limits legislation.

Phil Bowler, 90, of La Follette, Tennessee, said he’s not at all opposed to setting a limit on years of service for judges. The Republican, who worked in broadcasting and later owned his own lawn care business, said, “Basically it’s worked the way it’s been going and I don’t see any reason to change that. “

The oldest member of the current court is Justice Clarence Thomas, 74, followed by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., 72. But the most recent judges served in the 80s. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served until her death in 2020 at the age of 87. Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018 at the age of 81. And Justice Stephen G. Breyer retired at just 83 years old.

Ginsburg served 27 years, Kennedy 30 years and Breyer nearly 28 years.

Four new members have joined the court in the past five years, reducing the average age of the court’s members. Three justices are in their 60s: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., 67, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, 68, and Elena Keegan, 62. The rest of the judges are in their 50s. Neil M. Gorsuch is 54, Brett M. Cavanagh is 57, Amy Cooney Barrett is 50 and Ketanji Brown Jackson is 51.

Another proposal Biden’s committee studied was increasing the number of judges on the court, and polls show the proposal splits Americans evenly. Overall, 34% say they are in favor, while 34% are opposed and 32% say they have no opinion. Democrats are more in favor than opposed, 52% to 14%, while Republicans are more opposed in favor, 61% to 14%.

The poll also found dissatisfaction with the court three months ago, before the court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade’s decision was overturned.

In an April poll, conducted before the draft of the court decision was leaked, 18% said they had a lot of confidence, 54% said they had only some and 27% said they had hardly any. there is someone Now, 17% say they have a lot of confidence, 39% just a little and 43% hardly any.

Patrick Allen, a Democrat from Logan, Utah, is among those who lack confidence in the court. Allen, 33, said he feels like judges generally vote on issues based on the party of the president who appointed them. “They are sticking to their guns more on their party lines than on the Constitution,” he said.

Polls show that the decline in trust is concentrated among Democrats, providing evidence that the court’s decision on abortion has hurt and polarized an already weak opinion of the court. A large partisan gap in the court’s views that did not exist before the judgment came out. 64 percent of Democrats say they have almost no confidence, up from 27 percent in April. Another 31% have only some and only 4% have a lot of confidence – down from 17%.

Among Republicans, however, views of the court have improved. Now, 34% say they have a lot of confidence, up from 21% in the previous survey. An additional 47% have only some confidence and 18% hardly any.

Overall, more Americans disapprove than approve of the decision to overturn Roe, 53% to 30%; An additional 16% say they have no opinion. Even on the decision, there is a big split along party lines – 63% of Republicans approve, while 80% of Democrats disapprove.


The poll of 1,085 adults was conducted July 14-17 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

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