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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
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.
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.