MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll national survey finds approval of the U.S. Supreme Court has taken a sharp turn down, falling to 44%, with 55% disapproving of how the Court is handling its job. In March, 54% approved and 45% disapproved. Approval of the Court stood at 66% in September 2020, when 33% disapproved. As recently as July 2021, the Court had a 60% approval rating. Table 1 shows the trend in approval since September 2020.

Table 1: Court approval trend, Sept. 2020-May 2022

Poll dates Approve Disapprove
9/8-15/20 66 33
7/16-26/21 60 39
9/7-16/21 49 50
11/1-10/21 54 46
1/10-21/22 52 46
3/14-24/22 54 45
5/9-19/22 44 55

The latest Marquette Law School Poll’s Supreme Court survey was conducted May 9-19, 2022, a week after a draft opinion that would overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion rights precedent was leaked to the Politico news organization. The survey interviewed 1,004 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points.

Approval dropped sharply in September 2021 after the Court earlier that month rejected a request to block enforcement of a Texas law, known as S.B. 8, which bans most abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, at around six weeks of pregnancy. Since September, approval had recovered about five percentage points, prior to this May decline.

The sharp decline in approval in May reflects a drop of 23 percentage points among Democrats and a 6-point fall among independents, while approval rose by 4 percentage points among Republicans. Compared to the results in March, approval of the Court is more sharply polarized along party lines than it was two months ago. There was a 42-percentage point gap in approval between Republicans and Democrats in May, compared to a gap of 15 points in March. Table 2 shows approval by party identification in the March and May surveys.

Table 2: Court approval by party identification, March and May 2022

(a) March 2022

Party ID Approve Disapprove
Republican 64 35
Independent 44 53
Democrat 49 51

(b) May 2022

Party ID Approve Disapprove
Republican 68 32
Independent 38 59
Democrat 26 73

Self-described ideology is strongly correlated with approval of the Court, and the correlation increased in polarization from March to May, as shown in Table 3. Approval of the Court’s handling of its job increased among those who describe themselves as very conservative or conservative, while it was reduced among those who consider themselves moderate, liberal, or very liberal. The difference in approval rate between the most conservative and most liberal respondents is now 66 percentage points, up from 36 percentage points in March.

Table 3: Court approval, by ideology, March and May 2022

(a) March 2022

Ideology Approve Disapprove
Very conservative 65 35
Somewhat conservative 68 31
Moderate 58 40
Somewhat liberal 40 60
Very liberal 29 71

(b) May 2022

Ideology Approve Disapprove
Very conservative 75 25
Somewhat conservative 72 27
Moderate 36 63
Somewhat liberal 28 72
Very liberal 9 88

Public opinion on abortion issues

Opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade has not changed in the wake of the leaked draft opinion. Among those with an opinion on the issue, 31% favor overturning Roe, while 69% oppose striking it down, hardly changed since March when 32% were in favor and 68% were opposed. Table 4 shows the trend on this question since September 2019.

Table 4: Favor or oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, trend among those with an opinion, 2019-2022

Poll dates Favor overturning Oppose overturning
9/3-13/19 32 68
9/8-15/20 37 63
9/7-16/21 28 72
11/1-10/21 30 70
1/10-21/22 28 72
3/14-24/22 32 68
5/9-19/22 31 69

Opinion is evenly divided on a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy under a Mississippi law that is before the Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, with 51% in favor of upholding the law and 49% opposed, among those with an opinion. Since September 2021, views on this limitation on abortion have remained stable, as shown in Table 5, since the question was first asked.

Table 5: Favor or oppose upholding 15-week ban on abortion, trend among those with an opinion, Sept. 2021-May 2022

Poll dates Favor Oppose
9/7-16/21 54 46
11/1-10/21 53 47
1/10-21/22 49 51
5/9-19/22 51 49

A large majority, 70%, oppose the Texas S.B. 8 law, which bans abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to sue those who assist someone seeking an abortion, while 30% favor the law. The Supreme Court has considered requests to block or strike down this law since August 2021 but has returned the case for consideration by lower courts, allowing it to remain in effect. There has been little change since November in views of this law, as shown in Table 6.

Table 6: Favor or oppose Texas S.B. 8 six-week ban on abortion, trend among those with an opinion, Sept. 2021-May 2022

Poll dates Favor Oppose
9/7-16/21 39 61
11/1-10/21 30 70
1/10-21/22 28 72
5/9-19/22 30 70

Substantial partisan divides on each of the three abortion issues have changed little, the results of the new poll show. Table 7 shows views on overturning Roe, by party, in March and May 2022. While independents in May are 16 percentage points more opposed to overturning Roe than they were in March, the views of Republicans shifted by only 1 percentage point and Democrats did not shift at all.

Table 7: Favor overturning Roe, by party identification, March and May 2022

(a) March 2022

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 64 36
Independent 35 65
Democrat 6 94

(b) May 2022

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 65 35
Independent 19 81
Democrat 6 94

Opinions on the Mississippi 15-week ban have changed only slightly among any of the three partisan groups since January, with Republicans becoming 3 percentage points more favorable to the law and Democrats 3 percentage points more opposed. Independents have become 1 percentage point more opposed. Table 8 shows opinion by party for January and May 2022.

Table 8: Favor upholding 15-week ban in Dobbs, by party identification, Jan. and May 2022

(a) January 2022

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 81 19
Independent 46 54
Democrat 25 75

(b) May 2022

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 84 16
Independent 45 55
Democrat 22 78

Republican support of Texas S.B. 8 increased five percentage points from January, when the question was previously asked, to May. Meanwhile, opposition among independents increased 6 points and Democrats became 1 point less opposed. Table 9 shows opinion on this law by party identification.

Table 9: Favor 6-week ban in Texas SB-8, by party identification, Jan. and May 2022

(a) January 2022

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 55 45
Independent 28 72
Democrat 9 91

(b) May 2022

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 60 40
Independent 22 78
Democrat 10 90

Approval of the Court, by opinion on abortion issues

While, on balance, opinion on abortion laws has not changed substantially, those preferences have increased divisions in approval of the Court. Table 10 shows the relationship between opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade and approval of the Court’s performance in March and in May. Approval of the Court increased by 19 percentage points among those in favor of overturning Roe, while such approval decreased by 20 percentage points among those opposed to overturning Roe. Approval also declined by 13 percentage points among those who said they didn’t have an opinion about overturning Roe.

Table 10: Court performance approval, by view on overturning Roe, March and May 2022

(a) March 2022

Overturn Roe Approve Disapprove
No opinion 60

Print Friendly, PDF & Email