A lot of Americans lack knowledge about the Supreme Court, according to a C-SPAN and PSB poll released Tuesday.
The survey targeted U.S. voters and asked their opinions on the Supreme Court as well as their knowledge of the court. Half of the respondents could not name any cases decided by the Supreme Court, and 65 percent could not identify the individual that President Donald Trump recently nominated to serve on the court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
The survey, broken down by ideology, party identification and age, among other aspects, revealed that 62 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans were unaware of who Trump picked for the seat.
Over half of the respondents, 52 percent, could not name any current justice sitting on the Supreme Court.
A majority of respondents lacked knowledge of a few basic facts about the court. However, the voters overwhelmingly believed the decisions made by the Supreme Court have an impact on their everyday life: 90 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats thought this.
One of the more telling political revelations from this survey was the number of respondents who believe the U.S. Constitution is a living document and should evolve to recognize new rights versus those who think it should be interpreted exactly how it was written.
While Republicans, 64 percent, and conservatives, 68 percent, remained steadfast in believing the Constitution should be interpreted by its original words and meaning, 80 percent of liberals and 66 percent of Democrats responded that the document should evolve to keep up with the times.
“Some people believe that the Constitution is a living document, which should evolve to recognize new rights and changing circumstances. Other people believe that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its original words and meaning. Which comes closer to your view?” the survey asked.
In general, the majority of respondents in the survey agreed with the left-leaning cohorts, with an overall average of 48 percent respondents siding with the Democratic and liberal position favoring an evolving Constitution and 42 percent overall favoring the Republican and conservative side of interpreting the Constitution as is.
Another question proposed to the respondents asked if they thought the Supreme Court operated within a partisan divide, like Congress, or if it operated “in a serious and constitutionally sound manner.”
The results were nearly evenly split when comparing parties and ideologies, but overall, the majority of respondents, 56 percent, think the Supreme Court is split on political grounds, like Congress.
“Two in three American citizens who have an opinion think the U.S. Supreme Court is a partisan political body similar to Congress and those numbers are rising,” Robert Green, principal at PSB, said in a statement.
“The easiest way to convey to the public that the Supreme Court takes its responsibilities seriously as a constitutional court would be to permit Americans to view the court oral arguments unfiltered through TV or online,” he added.
The survey polled 1,000 likely U.S. voters and was conducted on Aug. 13-15. The margin of error was 3.10 percent.
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