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New Poll: Vast Majority of Americans Want SCOTUS Nominees Who Apply Constitution as Originally Written


Majorities also support original interpretation of Constitution, protection of religious freedom

A new poll conducted by the Marist Poll, and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, has found overwhelming support for the swift nomination of a Supreme Court justice who will apply the Constitution as originally written. Majorities also support interpreting the Constitution as originally intended and quick action to protect religious freedom.

Eight in 10 Americans (80 percent) say it is an “immediate priority” or an “important” one to appoint Supreme Court justices who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written. This includes 56 percent who say such an appointment is an “immediate priority.” Fifty-three percent of Independents, 80 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats also say it is an “immediate priority.”

By 12 percentage points, a majority of Americans (52 percent versus 40 percent) want the court to interpret the Constitution “as it was originally written” and not on what the justices think the “Constitution means now.” Independents agree (50 percent to 42 percent), as do Republicans (78 percent to 18 percent). Even three in 10 Democrats share this opinion (31 percent), and about six in 10 do not (59 percent).

Almost 9 in 10 Americans (89 percent) also see protecting religious freedom as a priority, including 57 percent who describe it as an “immediate priority” and 32 percent who consider it an “important” one.  The issue is embraced in a completely bipartisan manner.  Fifty-one percent of Independents, 55 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans concur that this is an “immediate priority.”

By 40 points, the vast majority of Americans also believe religious freedom should be protected even when it conflicts with government laws (65 percent to 25 percent). Strong majorities of Republicans (74 percent), Independents (63 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) agree.

“Majorities of Americans – regardless of party – have embraced religious freedom and have rightly rejected the false notion that it is something negative. They overwhelming support the protection of our first freedom, the free exercise of religion,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “And not surprisingly, most Americans value the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and therefore see as an immediate priority the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the document as written.”

The survey of 2,729 adults was conducted Dec. 12 through Dec. 19, 2016. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within ±1.9 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.