Confidence in Supreme Court at All-Time Low Ahead of Roe v. Wade Decision

Ahead of the Supreme Court's crucial ruling on a Mississippi abortion rights case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, Americans' confidence in the court has sunk to an all-time low, according to a recent poll.

Only 25 percent of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the Supreme Court, according to Gallup's annual update on confidence in the nation's institution.

The number shows a significant deterioration of confidence in the court, having dropped by 11 percentage points compared to a year ago. It's the steepest decline in confidence of all U.S. institutions.

It should be noted that while confidence dropped among Democrats (30 to 13 percent) and Independents (40 to 25 percent), Republicans expressed essentially the same level of confidence as last year's, if not a little more (37 to 39 percent). But even among Republicans, confidence in the Supreme Court is far from what it used to be, having hit 53 percent in 2020.

Overall, confidence in the Supreme Court has averaged 35 percent for the past 16 years, a steady drop from the times between 1973 and 2006 when an average of 47 percent of Americans expressed confidence in the court.

It's unclear what role played the looming Supreme Court's ruling that could overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision into these results, and is just as uncertain whether the justices' final decision on the case will harm public confidence in the court.

It seems that the leaking of the Supreme Court's draft opinion published by Politico in May revealing that a majority of justices were preparing to overrule almost half a century of abortion rights in the country has profoundly shaken the court, while sparking nationwide protests against the justices involved.

If the court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade, as strongly suggested by the leaked draft opinion, the legal status of abortion would be left for individual states to decide. It has been estimated that almost half of the states might make abortions illegal after the landmark 1973 ruling is overturned.

One factor that did not play into the poll's results, ran between June 1 and 20, and could potentially impact confidence in the Supreme Court, was the justices' decision to strike down a 100-year-old New York law limiting the carrying of concealed guns in public on Thursday.

In a 6-to-3 vote, all six conservative justices ruled that the New York's law —one of the toughest gun control rules in the country— violated the Second Amendment by requiring gun owners to have a "special need" in order to receive the license necessary to be allowed to carry a concealed firearm in public.

While the court's decision pleased some among the Republican ranks —including former president Donald Trump— it outraged many Democrats, including those in the five states beside New York where gun control rules are now expected to be more lax following Thursday's ruling.

The decision also came in stark contrast with the passing of a bipartisan gun bill by the Senate on the same day, which has broken through the Republicans' decade-long blockade of any legislation increasing gun control in the country.

Supreme Court
Public confidence in the Supreme Court has dropped to an all-time low. In this photo, members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021. Seated from left: Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left: Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images