Marist Poll: Majority Wants Swift Action on Constitutionally Rigorous SCOTUS Nominee

2/2/2017

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents support religious freedom protections and abortion restrictions

A recent survey 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.

The survey also found that majorities support abortion restrictions and religious freedom protections, irrespective of party affiliation.

Overall, the survey found that 8 in 10 Americans (80 percent) say it is an “immediate priority” (56 percent) or an “important” one (24 percent) to appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written. Ninety-three percent of Republicans, 77 percent of Independents and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

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 they think the “Constitution means now.” Independents agree (50 percent to 42 percent), as do Republicans (78 percent to 18 percent). Even 3 in 10 Democrats share this opinion (31 percent), and about 6 in 10 do not (59 percent).

“Neil Gorsuch is exactly the sort of Supreme Court nominee that the vast majority of Americans are looking for,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “He has a record of interpreting the Constitution as it was written and understanding that abortion law in the United States is deficient and that our religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. On these issues, Judge Gorsuch aligns not only with the majority of Americans but with the majority of those who identify as Democrats, Republicans and Independents.”

According to the poll, almost 9 in 10 Americans (89 percent) 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 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 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.

Almost three-quarters of Americans — and a majority of Americans of all political persuasions — agree that abortion should be substantially restricted to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. This includes 58 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Independents.

Nearly three-quarters of those who agree abortion should be significantly restricted (74 percent) want the Supreme Court to act to do so. That means more than half of all Americans (55 percent) agree that the Supreme Court should rule to allow abortion restrictions.

This survey of 2,729 adults was conducted Dec. 12-19, 2016, by the Marist Poll and sponsored and funded in partnership with the Knights of Columbus. 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 plus or minus 1.9 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.