1 in 3 Americans say they might consider abolishing or limiting Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court’s fall term begins, a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center finds that more than a third of Americans say they might be willing to abolish the Supreme Court or have Congress limit its jurisdiction if the court were to make decisions they or Congress disagreed with.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

The nationally representative survey conducted in September found sharp increases in the proportion of Americans willing to consider getting rid of or reining in the nation’s highest court.

The survey found that 34% of Americans said “it might be better to do away with the court altogether” if it “started making a lot of rulings that most Americans disagreed with.” And 38% said that when Congress disagrees with the court’s decisions, “Congress should pass legislation saying the Supreme Court can no longer rule on that issue or topic.”

“Respect for judicial independence appears to be eroding,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “The willingness of more than 1 in 3 Americans to entertain the idea of abolishing the court or stripping jurisdiction from it is alarming.”

The findings follow a contentious year with increased media coverage of the powers, functions, and prerogatives of the three branches of government. Among the past year’s events were a pandemic in which legislatures and courts grappled with health and safety restrictions; a disputed election and unsuccessful efforts to overturn the results in the courts, including the Supreme Court; and Supreme Court rulings on controversial issues, including a ruling that rejected efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the court’s refusal to review the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for students and employees at Indiana University. Just before the September survey was fielded, the Supreme Court refused, 5-4, to block a Texas law restricting abortion access.

Read more at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.