Gallup poll finds trust in Supreme Court at historic low, down 20 points in two years

WASHINGTON – Americans’ trust in the Supreme Court and its job approval ratings have significantly dropped in the last two years, reaching historic lows, a Gallup poll has found.

Only 47% of Americans said they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the high court, a 20-percentage point drop from 2020 and a 7-percentage point drop from the previous year. This year marks the lowest trust level among Americans since 1972. 

Job approval of the Supreme Court also took a hit, as only 40% of those polled said they approved of the job done by the court, an 18-percentage point drop from 2020, tying for the lowest approval numbers found by Gallup.

As the overall approval of the court has dropped, approval is split among partisan lines, with the majority of Republicans still viewing the high court positively. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans trust the Supreme Court — a 6 percentage point increase from 2021 — compared to only 25% of Democrats, a 26-percentage point drop from 2021.

Sixty percent of Republicans also approve of the court’s handling of its job compared to 36% of independents and 23% of Democrats – another historic low – according to Gallup’s previous polling.

The poll surveyed 812 American adults from Sept. 1-16 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The drop in confidences comes after the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority consistently ruled in ways that closely align with conservative ideology in divisive cases, involving issues of abortion, religion and guns, in its latest term.

The court’s legitimacy was called into question on the left earlier this year after it overturned the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, granting states the ability to outlaw abortion, and further exacerbating partisan divides.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan issued warnings this summer about the decline of Americans’ trust in the high court if it’s seen as another political entity.She declined to mention any specific ruling.

"A court does best when it keeps to the legal issues, when it doesn't allow personal political views, personal policy views to an affect or infect, its judging," Kagan said Sept. 19 during a question-and-answer session at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan issued warnings this summer about in the decline of Americans’ trust in the high court if it’s seen as another political entity. in a recent string of public appearances as the court prepares for another term, opting to exclude She declined to mention any specific ruling.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sam Alito have both countered in recent weeks that Americans are free to criticize the court but questioned whether the charges of illegitimacy are based on the fact that many Americans didn't like the abortion decision. The Supreme Court, the justices have frequently pointed out, is the one branch of the federal government that was designed to not be responsive to public opinion.

Americans’ opinions of the court’s ideology are also split among partisan lines, as 71% of Democrats consider the Supreme Court as “too conservative” while nearly a third of Republicans said the court is “too liberal.”

Over half of Republicans said that the court’s ideology was “about right” compared to 35% of independents and 18% of Democrats.