This poll suggests, among other things, that we have our work cut out for us. While I’m not quite sure what people were thinking when they answered in this way, 52% agreed that "[i]n making decisions, the Supreme Court should consider changing times and current realities in applying the principles of the Constitution." Only 40% averred that "the Supreme Court should only consider the original intentions of the authors of the Constitution." Why, then, do we need a legislature?
Other interesting/disturbing findings include these:
*57% of respondents think abortion should be legal in most or all cases (a result that has remained stable over the past few years).
*Roughly equal proportions of respondents support same-sex marriage, civil unions, or no recognition. Asked simply if they favor or oppose same-sex marriage, opponents lead 55-36, but 40% of the opponents could live with (so to speak) civil unions, if state courts permitted them to occupy this middle ground.
*Roughly similar proportions oppose requiring a state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state (50-44) and a law in their state banning same-sex marriage (49-45). Much of the opposition to same-sex marriage seems to be "personal." People are "pro-choice" here, not fully realizing that being pro-choice is the same as favoring same-sex marriage.
*A small majority favors some sort of faith-based initiative, while a much larger majority doesn’t think that religious organizations that accept government money "should be able to discriminate in favor of hiring people of their own faith." One wonders if the answers would be different if the question were different. How would you answer this: "Do you think that religious organizations that accept federal money should have the same hiring rights as other religious groups?" Or this: "Do you think that religious groups that accept federal money ought to be able to hire only those who support their mission, just as other recipients of federal money can?"
*By a 43-39 margin, respondents disapprove of the way the Supreme Court is doing its job. By a 42-33 margin, respondents think the Court is moving in the wrong direction. The Court’s positive rating has dropped almost 20% in little more than a year. The right direction/wrong direction numbers have flipped in a little less than a year. This suggests that those who think that judicial nominations are an issue that cuts in favor of John McCain might be mistaken, although independents are evenly split (41-41) on the first question and very narrowly take the wrong direction side on the second one.
For me, the bottom line is this: on many of the matters treated in this poll, people are relying on the haziest of impressions, largely formed by media coveerage. Getting their attention and changing their minds is extremely hard work. But there’s no better time than during a presidential campaign to try to do it.
Hat tip: MOJ’s Rob Vischer.
Update: Rick Garnett has more.