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Most Troubling: A National Foundation Facing Loss Of Faith From Citizens

October 2, 2018

This is without doubt the most disturbing news item to cross my desk today.  It does not take a historian or even a most die-in-the-wool patriot to grasp the deep concern that this polling data reveals.

The deep political divisions, lack of sound civics education, a strong understanding of our history, along with a fractured way of how citizens are made aware of the news all combine–in my opinion–to get us to a point where the following is possible.

It is most troubling.  Troubling for all of us.

Polling from Gallup, which tracks Americans’ confidence in a wide range of institutions, shows that the public has slowly become more disillusioned with the Supreme Court over the past few decades. In the 1980s, majorities routinely reported that they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the court. Gallup’s latest polling from earlier this year, though, found that only 37 percent had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence.1

Meanwhile, the same fault lines that are dividing American politics also appear in perceptions of the court. A Gallup poll released last week shows that women’s approval of the Supreme Court has dropped 6 percentage points in the past year, resulting in a 17-point gender gap.

It’s possible, of course, that the decline in support for the court is just a symptom of the country’s growing distrust of institutions overall. But independent of that broader trend, it’s clear that partisan tensions around the court have increased significantly as well. In the 1970s and 1980s, Supreme Court nominees were routinely confirmed with the votes of the vast majority of senators. As recently as 2005, 78 senators voted to confirm Chief Justice John Roberts.


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