Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008, at 10:37 AM
Here are some odd poll results from Rasmussen Reports. Americans think that the Supreme Court does a good job but that the Supreme Court justices do a bad job.
For the court as a whole, 41 percent of voters rated the Court good or excellent; 19 percent rated it poor.
For the individual justices:
Thomas: 38 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable
Ginsburg: 36 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable
Alito: 26 percent favorable, 38 percent unfavorable
Roberts: 26 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable
Scalia: 27 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable
Stevens: 17 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable
Kennedy: 25 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable
Breyer: 18 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable
Souter: 16 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable
So, except for Ginsburg, all the ratings are negative; and Ginsburg herself hardly receives much of an endorsement. Meanwhile, Congress receives 13 percent good or excellent ratings, yet I believe that voters typically give high approval ratings to their own representatives. Do voters realize that these institutions are composed of people? Maybe when voters rate the court, they unconsciously compare it to Congress and the presidency, but when they rate individual justices, they compare them to some imagined ideal of what a Supreme Court justice does or they recall some unfavorable story about the justice's confirmation hearings or out-of-court activities.