Court's Shift Mirrors Public Opinion

In the court of public opinion at least, the nine Supreme Court justices have tended to be right over the last four years. And by and large, the Roberts Court’s decisions have fallen on the conservative side. According to a recent poll, a majority of respondents agreed with the court’s opinion when it ruled against “partial-birth” abortions, supported a homeowner’s right to a gun, and upheld a requirement for voters to show photo ID. The popular liberal decisions were on carbon-pollution restrictions and on parole for juveniles serving life sentences. All of those, however, split the justices, 5-4. The two major exceptions were rulings that gave Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their detention in civil court and corporations the right to freely back or oppose candidates for office— the public was not a fan. But the public’s general approval seems to break with historical trends that put the court “to the left of the public” on headline-making issues, according to one Columbia law professor.