Poll: Most Americans Don't Want Supreme Court Justices Appointed For Life

Published On: Oct 15 2012 11:50:54 AM CDT

The United States Supreme Court is back on the bench, following a controversial spring session that saw rulings on health care and immigration. This fall session will include more legal fireworks, with decisions expected on affirmative action, same-sex marriage, voting rights, and abortions.

Those up-coming landmark decisions, which will affect tens of millions of Americans, will be made by nine justices who are constitutionally appointed for life.

More than two-thirds of Americans think Supreme Court justices should be term-limited. That’s according to a survey by legal information website THELAW.TV (http://thelaw.tv), the largest website with video-based legal content. The survey found that only 68 percent of Americans think Supreme Court justices should receive lifetime appointments.

“Federal judges, including those on the Supreme Court, are the only American officials appointed for life. Many Americans seem troubled by the seemingly unaccountable nature of the job,” says Brian Albert, attorney and founder of legal information website THELAW.TV. “But, the framers of the Constitution did this to remove the justices from the typical pressures faced by politicians. Lifetime appointments have allowed the justices to make some of the most controversial decisions that have changed the course of our country.”

Other findings of THELAW.TV’s survey on public attitudes toward the high court:

  • 85 percent of Americans were able to name at least one historical Supreme Court decision, with 56 percent of those surveyed naming Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case from 1973, as their most familiar historical Supreme Court case.
  • 72 percent of Americans were able to name at least one current Supreme Court justice, with Chief Justice John Roberts being the most familiar of the nine current justices and Justice Stephen Breyer being the least familiar to those surveyed.
  • 69 percent of Americans say the future make-up of the Supreme Court will not affect their decision of whom to vote for in the 2012 presidential election. President’s appointment federal judges, with the justices usually having a longer impact on the country than the president.

The THELAW.TV survey was conducted using a demographically balanced internet-based survey of 400 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.9 percent.


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