The Supreme Court

December 16, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 43
Will Americans regain their trust in it?
By Christina L. Lyons


Americans’ trust in the Supreme Court dipped to an historic low in September, when only 40 percent of respondents in a Gallup poll said they approved of the court. Many began questioning its legitimacy after the GOP-led Senate blocked Merrick Garland's nomination to the court by President Barack Obama. Since then, the balance of the court has shifted to a 6-3 conservative majority because of President Donald Trump's three appointments, one of which filled the seat for which Garland was nominated. This shift ultimately resulted in rulings overturning the right to an abortion, rolling back portions of the Voting Rights Act and curbing the federal government's authority to limit carbon emissions. Some observers say such rulings correct earlier court errors or properly check government power. Others are calling for court reforms to restore the institution's ideological balance either through term limits for justices or adding more seats. Meanwhile, a leaked draft of the pivotal abortion ruling in May, combined with questions about justices’ political activities, have spurred calls for a court ethics code. But concerns linger over whether reforms would be effective or constitutional.

Photo of fencing surrounding U.S. Supreme Court, on June 23, 2022. (Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker)
Temporary fencing surrounds the U.S. Supreme Court in June amid increasing threats of violence against the justices and in anticipation of mass protests over a ruling overturning the federal right to an abortion. (Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Supreme Court
Dec. 16, 2022  The Supreme Court
Sep. 28, 2012  Supreme Court Controversies
May 13, 2011  Class Action Lawsuits
Jan. 28, 2005  Supreme Court's Future
Sep. 17, 1993  Supreme Court Preview
Aug. 14, 1987  Supreme Court Nomination
Sep. 26, 1986  The Rehnquist Court
Oct. 26, 1979  Supreme Court and the Press
Sep. 22, 1978  Burger Court's Tenth Year
Jun. 24, 1977  Politics and the Federal Courts
Oct. 09, 1968  Challenging of Supreme Court
Sep. 28, 1966  Supreme Court: Legal Storm Center
Jan. 22, 1958  Criminal Prosecution and the Supreme Court
Jan. 23, 1952  Judges in Politics
Jun. 05, 1939  Supreme Court Decisions, 1938–39
Nov. 17, 1938  Supreme Court Appointments
May 31, 1938  Supreme Court Decisions, 1937–38
Jun. 01, 1937  Supreme Court Decisions, 1936–37
Jun. 01, 1936  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1935-36
Jun. 05, 1933  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1932-33
Jun. 04, 1932  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1931–32
Jun. 06, 1931  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1930–31
Jun. 09, 1930  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1929–30
Jun. 10, 1929  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1928-29
Jun. 09, 1928  Decisions of the Supreme Court 1927–28
Sep. 27, 1924  The Supreme Court Issue
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues
Affirmative Action
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Issues
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Federal Courts
Freedom of Speech and Press
General Social Trends
Internet and Social Media
Judicial Appointments
Marriage and Divorce
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Religious Movements
Supreme Court History and Decisions