Well, Sam Alito and Barack Obama may have to agree-to-disagree on whether the Supreme Court has ignored a century of judicial precedents in its Citizens United ruling, but there is an unusually high level of agreement among the public about the ruling: They hate it.
A two-question ABC News/Washington Post poll on the issue revealed that 80 percent of Americans (65 percent strongly) oppose the Court’s recent ruling, and 72 percent (52 percent strongly) want Congress to do something to reverse the Court. This is stunning. There are very, very few issues in American politics for which there is such lopsided and intense agreement.
ABC/WaPo polling director Gary Langer’s analysis is best left unaltered:
“The bipartisan nature of these views is striking in these largely partisan times. The court’s ruling is opposed, respectively, by 76, 81 and 85 percent of Republicans, independents and Democrats; and by 73, 85 and 86 percent of conservatives, moderates and liberals. Majorities in all these groups, ranging from 58 to 73 percent, not only oppose the ruling but feel strongly about it.
Even among people who agree at least somewhat with the Tea Party movement, which advocates less government regulation, 73 percent oppose the high court’s rejection of this particular law. Among the subset who agree strongly with the Tea Party’s positions on the issues – 14 percent of all adults – fewer but still most, 56 percent, oppose the high court in this case.”
Now, the Supreme Court is not supposed to be a majoritarian institution. Its greatness, in fact, is in defending constitutional protections even in the face of public majorities or pluralities opposed to such protections. The Civil Rights Movement was catalyzed by important Court rulings issues in the face of significant public opposition.
But this is a pretty dramatic poll finding. It may lend further momentum and credence to those who foresee a coming, left-right populist revolt–and may temporarily take some of the heat off Obama as a target of such sentiments coming from both of his flanks.