Study Finds Americans' Trust In Supreme Court Has Tanked Post-Dobbs

Once an outlier among U.S. institutions, the court's "special status has evaporated," researchers said.

Americans who believed the U.S. Supreme Court held itself above the political fray are now becoming increasingly disillusioned in the wake of the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a new study.

Published earlier this month in the journal Science Advances, the study noted that, for decades, people on both sides of the political aisle tended to put the Supreme Court on a special pedestal, trusting it to make decisions fairly on the basis of law and precedent even as their trust in other U.S. institutions declined.

Those days are apparently over.

“Since 2020, the Court’s special status has evaporated, with trust in it plummeting by 20 percentage points,” the researchers stated, adding that 2022 marked the lowest levels of trust recorded in half a century. Last year was roughly the same as that.

“What explains this dramatic volte-face? The most likely cause is that public perceptions of the Court have become politicized,” the researchers said.

June 2022 saw the Supreme Court make the shocking decision to end the national right to abortion care established in 1973’s Roe v. Wade. The court’s 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ostensibly returned the question of abortion access to each individual state.

But the researchers noted that the number of polarized decisions have also been increasing more generally.

Rulings “where all the justices nominated by Republican presidents voted as a bloc against all those nominated by Democratic ones” tripled between the 2018-2019 term and the 2021-2022 term, they said.

Democrats in particular view the court as less trustworthy, and are more willing to indicate support for reforms, the study found.

The researchers analyzed historical Gallup survey data along with panel data from the Annenberg Institutions of Democracy, which has been conducting an ongoing survey of about 3,800 people in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin since 2020.

“After Dobbs, trust sharply polarized,” the study said, pointing to a “10-fold increase from the 2020 baseline.”

“These findings suggest that at least part of the public increasingly sees the Court as politicians in robes, with troubling implications for its role in our democracy,” the researchers said.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot