A majority of Americans said the Supreme Court was “middle of the road” instead of conservative or liberal before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg, a member of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87. Her death leaves the court with a 5-3 conservative majority and gives President Donald Trump the opportunity to further reshape the highest court in the nation.
A Pew Research Center poll of 11,001 adults conducted July 27-Aug. 2 found 56% said the court is “middle of the road.”
Those surveyed who agreed, by party:
Republicans and those leaning toward Republicans: 66%
Democrats and those leaning Democrats: 47%
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points, also surveyed how powerful the court is.
People were asked whether the Supreme Court has “the right amount of power.” Those who said yes, by party:
Republicans and those leaning toward Republicans: 66%;
Democrats and those leaning toward Democrats: 64%
The greatest party divide was how the court should base its rulings — “What (the constitution) meant as originally written,” or “What it means in current times.”
The results, overall:
“Current times,” 55%;
“Originally written,” 43%.
Republicans and those leaning toward Republicans: 67% as “originally written;”
Democrats and those leaning toward Democrats: 23% on “current times.”
President Donald Trump said he plans to announce his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday, The Hill reported.
Democrats, including 2020 presidential nominee Joe Biden, asked Senate Republicans to wait until after the election to fill Ginsburg’s seat, citing what happened in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to ABC News.
In 2016, McConnell and Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama from appointing Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat.
Garland never received a confirmation hearing. At the time, McConnell said Scalia’s death, which happened Feb. 2016, was too close to an election and that voters should decide who fills the seat, leaving a vacancy for 10 months under Obama. “We believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in on whom they trust to nominate the next person for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” the Republican majority leader and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in The Washington Post.
But now, less than two months from Election Day, McConnell is saying that rule doesn’t apply this year because both the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, drawing backlash from Democrats and President Obama.
Democrats have been eyeing “court packing” — expanding the Supreme Court beyond nine justices — if Trump’s nominee is confirmed. In order to do this, they’d have to pass an act through Congress.
Meanwhile, other Democrats are concerned the move could backfire. In 2019, Biden said “we’ll live to rue that day” if the court is expanded and result in the Supreme Court losing “all credibility,” according to Politico.