Trust in the judicial branch of the federal government has fallen by 20% since 2021, according to a new poll released by Gallup on Thursday.
The poll showed that only 47 % of respondents expressed “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the judicial branch, which includes the Supreme Court, 12 Circuit Courts of Appeal and 94 U.S. District Courts. It is the lowest trust score in the judiciary since Gallup began polling the question in 1972.
Trust in the judicial branch was at its highest in 1999 when it reached 80% after increasing steadily over 25 years, per the survey. In 2000, during the Bush v. Gore case about that year’s presidential election, trust in the judiciary was at 75%, a full 28% higher than it is currently.
The survey also polled respondents about their approval of the Supreme Court, which heads the federal judiciary and has the final word on all questions of federal and constitutional law. Among them, 58% disapproved of their performance, a record high, while 40% approved, a record low.
Among party affiliations, the biggest decline in trust in the judiciary came from Democrats, which fell from 50% in 2021 to 25% in 2022, while independents’ trust fell by 5% to 46%. Republicans, by contrast, saw their confidence in the judiciary rise to 67%.
This year, the federal judiciary has decided several high-profile cases that have attracted considerable political controversy. In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that created a constitutional right to abort a pregnancy, which has become a primary political focus of the 2022 midterm election.
Additionally, the judiciary has reversed several policy initiatives by the Biden administration. These include the federal mandate to wear masks on transportation (Health Freedom Defense Fund v. Biden) and the federal vaccine mandate on private businesses (NFIB v. OSHA).
Following these rulings, Democrats have criticized the federal judiciary, and the Supreme Court in particular, as facing a “crisis of illegitimacy.” Many Democrats in Congress have called for measures to increase the number of seats on the court and appoint progressive justices to outweigh conservative rulings, known as “court packing.”
Expand the court.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 27, 2020
Some federal judges have spoken out about declining trust in the judiciary. In July, Justice Elena Kagan warned at an event in Montana that if “the [Supreme] court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy.” She was rebuked by Chief Justice John Roberts, who said that “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”
The survey consulted 812 adult respondents across the United States and had a margin of error of 4%.
The Daily Caller News Foundation has reached out to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Administrative Office of United States Courts for a comment.
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