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November 2006

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Polls: What Do Americans Think of Their Courts?

Do you think elected officials should have more control over federal judges and the decisions they make in court cases? A majority of Americans say no. In an October poll conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corporation, 67 percent of 1,013 Americans interviewed said elected officials should not have more control over federal judges and their decisions. Thirty percent said there should be more control, and 3 percent had no opinion.

The same poll asked about federal court judges’ decisions. Forty-one percent of those polled thought federal court judges’ decisions are just about right; 34 percent thought they were too liberal; and 20 percent said they were too conservative.

The CNN poll is the most recent of several polls that from time to time attempt to gauge Americans’ views of their Judiciary. A September 2006 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center showed, among other findings, that 64 percent of the public trusts the Supreme Court “a great deal” or “a fair amount;” and 75 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” that the Supreme Court can usually be trusted to make decisions that are right for the country as a whole.

In the Annenberg survey, 75 percent also said a judge’s ruling is influenced by his or her personal political views to a great or moderate extent, 62 percent said the courts favor the wealthy, and 62 percent said the courts in their state are legislating from the bench rather than interpreting the law.

The CNN poll can be found at www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/10/27/activist.judges/index.html. The Annenberg Survey is on-line at www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/Releases/Release_Courts20060928/Courts_Summary_20060928.pdf.