About three years ago, then-President Donald Trump complained that the judiciary had become too politicized, an assessment to which Chief Justice John Roberts took exception.
Roberts might be dismayed to learn, however, that a recent poll shows most Americans think the high court’s rulings are more partisan than they should be.
Pollsters identify bipartisan trend
According to Fox News, in 2018, the chief justice asserted: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Pollsters from Selzer & Company conducted a survey earlier this month on behalf of Grinnell College and reported results that seem to fly in the face of Roberts’ assurance.
According to The Hill, 62% of respondents believe Supreme Court rulings have become less influenced by the U.S. Constitution and now have more to do with the political views of the justices themselves.
The findings appear to extend beyond partisan lines with majorities on both sides of the political aisle expressing such a belief.
Of course, there were differences between supporters of Trump and those who backed President Joe Biden. About two in three Biden voters agreed that Supreme Court decisions were politically motivated, compared to 58% of Trump supporters.
“Trying to avoid”
The numbers changed slightly when considering party affiliation. Pollsters found that 60% of Republicans, 66% of Democrats, and 63% of independents expressed a belief that partisanship now motivates decisions from the bench.
Grinnell College political scientist Peter Hanson asserted that these results signal “the moment John Roberts has been trying to avoid.”
Hanson helped conduct the poll and concluded that despite the chief justice has failed in his efforts to “protect the courts as an apolitical institution.”
The prevailing opinion, he argued, is likely to be reinforced when the Supreme Court hears upcoming cases on hot-button issues including abortion and gun rights. Citing the recent survey, he said the results serve as “a signal that all of those decisions are going to be interpreted through a political lens.”
Many conservatives have expressed another frustration with Roberts, asserting that he has frequently reversed his own position on key issues, often during election years.