Driven Largely By Republicans, Public Opinion On The Supreme Court Hits A Low

Public opinion on the Supreme Court has declined significantly, largely because Republicans don't like the Supreme Court very much right now.

Supreme Court Justices 2

A new poll indicates that the Supreme Court has become much less popular over the past several years:

Don’t let the cheering crowds outside the Supreme Court fool you. The largest share of Americans in 30 years has a negative view of the Supreme Court, according to a July survey by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew survey, released Thursday, found that 43 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court, compared with 48 percent of Americans who have a favorable opinion of it.

The increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court was driven by a rise in unfavorable views among Republicans. The percentage of Republicans who said they have an unfavorable opinion of the court went from 40 percent in March to 61 percent in the new survey. 

The Pew survey results could have been driven by dissatisfaction with recent Supreme Court decisions. The Supreme Court issued rulings in late June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and upholding the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for buying insurance on state-run exchanges, both of which rankled conservatives. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents opposed to same-sex marriage, and 58 percent of respondents opposed to the Affordable Care Act, have an unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court.

Support for the court increased among Democrats over the same period, however. From March to July, the percentage of Democrats with a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court went from 54 percent to 62 percent.

The survey results will come as no surprise to Republican presidential candidates, who have elicited applause for attacking the Supreme Court in their stump speeches. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has gone furthest in his criticism, arguing that the Supreme Court justices should be elected.

As this chart shows, Republicans are largely the only demographic group that has an overwhelmingly negative view of the Court

Pew Supreme Court Chart One

And this one shows just how far apart Republicans and Democrats are in their opinions about the Court:

Pew Supreme Court Chart Two

Pew Supreme Court Chart TwoThe fact that Republicans have gained a more negative attitude about the Court in recent years isn’t entirely surprising. The Court has handed down several decision over the past decade that are arguably favorable to a conservative viewpoint, such as it’s rulings on gun control, it’s ruling in the Citizens United case and other high profile campaign finance cases, and more recently its rulings last year that severely limited the President’s recess appointment power and upheld the rights of religious business owners to be exempt from an HHS contraceptive coverage mandate. To a large degree, though, the last several years have been disappointing for political conservatives on some of their most high priority issues. Just five months before the 2012 elections, the Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, in a decision that saw an ostensibly conservative Chief Justice side with the Court’s liberal members to uphold the law. In 2013, another Republican-appointed Justice sided with the same group of liberals to strike down the Defense Of Marriage Act in a decision that set in motion a wave of cases that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country. And, of course, this year, the Court hit conservatives with the double whammy of a decision that has effectively ensured that the Affordable Care Act isn’t going away any time soon and a decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, again with the help of a Republican-appointed Justice joining the Court’s liberal members. The fact that the right has suffered all of these legal and political defeats at the hand of the Court, and that it happened with the help of Justices appointed by Republican Presidents has no doubt made conservative resentments toward the Court that go back to the days of the Warren Court and, later, the decision in Roe v. Wade even stronger.

Chris Cillizza looks at these numbers and sees cause for worry:

 The rising tendency to view the Court through a partisan lens is problematic for the country — and its politics. The Supreme Court, for decade upon decade, was viewed as the one thing in our increasingly polarized world that wasn’t subject to the partisan winds.  Yes, the justices were (and are) appointed by a president and confirmed by the Senate. But, the whole idea of a lifetime appointment was aimed at insulating them from the ups and downs of political Washington. (Worth noting: Sen. Ted Cruz, among others, proposed term limits for the justices in the wake of this session.)

No longer. The Court is now viewed like its other two co-equal branches — Congress and the White House; it’s regarded by many Americans as just another pawn in the political game.

Whose fault is that?  Ours or the Court’s? There’s no question that the Court has been involved in a number of very high profile cases with major societal and political implications over the past decade or so — starting with Bush v. Gore and going all the way through the decision that legalized same sex marriage nationwide.

At the same time, our increasing polarization as a country means we tend to see everything — from Cecil the lion to Beyonce to the Supreme Court — in partisan terms. Everything is political these days, even the branch of government purposely created to be above day-to-day politics.

Point is: The Supreme Court is increasingly regarded as something less than a neutral arbiter of the various debates in the country. A failure to recognize any referee as unbiased means that you can always say the game was rigged when the result goes against you.   That’s a horrible thing for democracy.

Cillizza’s concerns are well-placed, but to some extent I think they are a bit overblown. The partisanship that this poll reflects is hardly new when it comes to public opinion of the Supreme Court. Dating all the way back to the Warren Court’s decisions on civil rights and the rights of criminals under the Fourth, Fifth, and other Amendments to the Constitution, there has always been some degree of partisan rancor surrounding controversial high profile decisions. Granted, this has become a bigger issue as our political culture itself has become more partisan, but that’s not something that’s new either. The Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, for example, was the catalyst for an entire political movement that continues to resonate to this day. When group opposed to the decision hold their rally every January 22nd on the anniversary of the decision, the Supreme Court is always a prominent target of the protests even though the Court itself has not considered an abortion case in more than a decade. Additionally, partisan rancor toward the Court is hardly a conservative thing as the reaction of Democrats to decisions such as Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. FEC, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby demonstrate quite clearly. Partisans attacking the Court when it decides a case in a manner they disagree with, regardless of what the law might say on the matter, is hardly something limited to one political ideology and is arguably a tradition that dates back as far as the Dred Scott case.

At the same time, Cillizza does have a point about the impact that increased partisanship surrounding the Court could have in the future. On some level, the law depends on the people having a respect for its ultimate legitimacy and if people start to see the Court system as just another tool of party politics, then it will have a negative impact on respect for the law in general. I’m not sure what the solution for this might be, though. Courts can’t really refrain from getting involved in cases that raise controversial political issues just because of concerns about public opinion. Indeed, the entire purpose of life tenure for Federal Judges is to remove judges from political pressure. In the end, the only way to change the problem that Cillizza talks about is to do something about the increased partisanship that has become an endemic part of our political. I don’t see any way to stop that, though, so for better or worse we’re stuck with the world we’re living in.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    This started with Brown v. Board. That’s when the south turned against the SCOTUS. Amplified with Roe v. Wade. And now the Obamacare and SSM decisions.

    If you step back and look at American politics since 1968 you see the same old recurring tropes. Hippies vs. hardhats, black vs. white, women vs. men, gays vs. straights. We are still living out the sixties. The most intractable opposition is from old people, the Silent Generation and some Boomers, all reacting against what is at heart the dismantling of the old power structure.

    White males once held 100% of the power, and now they’re down to maybe 75% of the power. 75% is still massive, but relativity is everything and white males can read a trend line.

    Demographics will clear out the Silent Generation in the next 10 years. 70 year-olds become 80 year-olds who in turn become permanent non-voters. So, longer term, how will the Baby Boomers behave going forward? Boomers are split on the Hippie vs. Hardhat spectrum, so net we will likely be weak and uncommitted opponents of further dismantling.

    Short-term I worry about a backlash. The elements of the Democratic coalition are picking at each other more, showing less cohesion. There’s a fatigue that sets in with the eternal and unceasing cries of those waiting to be ‘liberated.’ It’s like compassion fatigue. A smarter GOP could exploit this, thank God they’re still busy alienating basically everyone and so far at least too stupid to see the opening.

  2. Pete S says:

    The court does itself no favours in terms of public opinion with the 5-4 decisions where you can guess going in how 7 of the 9 judges are going to rule. Non-lawyers like myself would expect that most times the decisions should be 9-0.

  3. Mu says:

    The problem is that many Republicans didn’t see the “wins” as something they gained, only as confirmation of their opinion. The losses on the other hand were clear attacks on their freedom, something to be rallied against. For the Democrats the wins were pleasant surprises from a court that’s majority R nominated, and the losses just what they expected. So they don’t feel slighted to the extend a lot of R do.

  4. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu:

    For the Democrats the wins were pleasant surprises from a court that’s majority R nominated, and the losses just what they expected.

    I’m not sure I agree. I wouldn’t put Citizens United or Hobby Lobby in the category of “just what I expected” — more in the category of “WTF!?”.

    …and I think that’s the secret to the Court’s current record unpopularity. It’s not just that they’ve come out with decisions that both sides disagree with; it’s that they’ve come out with decisions that both sides (at different times) think are flat-out dangerous lunacy.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    Totally OT, but has anyone noticed the recent revelation of the Plan B activity of the Greek ex-minister of Finance?

    Planning to arrest the head of the national bank if he doesn’t play nicely? Then to hack into the Tax files so you can set up a “parallel banking system” when Greece finally has to go Grexit? Deciding to have nice long talks about this with a bunch of hedge fund managers?

    As the commentators over at Naked Capitalism point out, these clowns don’t seem to have the intelligence to run a lemonade stand, let alone put into place a secret special plan to create and install a new financial system.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Pete S: One would like to think they could just coldly look at the law and interpret it logically, arriving at consistent results. Except that if it were a clear cut matter of interpreting the law, it likely wouldn’t reach the Supreme Court.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve commented before about the positive feedback loop that exists on the Republican side. The voters, politicians, and radio talkers push each other further and further to the right. The Rs have done a pretty good job of getting their people on the court, only to find themselves becoming unpopular with their own side because they are under some constraints from reality and the R voters have gone way to the right of reality.

  8. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: you’re forgetting that “old people” actually turn into “old people” at some point? as people age they usually become more conservative, whether or not they vote that way is to be seen.
    i think this ’60’s” shit is still around because none of this was taught in school or something- equal rights, abortion and such have been the law of the land for 50 yrs now and these young people think they’re the ones who changed it or something.oh yeah, climate change was around back then too- we called it “air/water pollution” and were stressed that the world would cool to quickly.

    but back to scotus- the msm seem to focus solely on the conservatives to see which way they’ll vote- like the liberals don’t even bother reviewing their caseload or something? that’s pretty lame on several levels.

  9. Tyrell says:

    I know some people who are still mad at Justice Earl Warren.
    “Impeach Earl Warren” popular bumper sticker

  10. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: Naah. You read a whole bunch of SCOTUS cases and try to tease out their logic and it really is a case of “decide what I want, then try to dream up some justification for ruling the way I did.”

    Don’t try to make sense of it.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @bill:

    as people age they usually become more conservative,

    That’s a myth. If you think Boomers are going to get old and turn against same sex marriage, for example, you’re tripping. Old people are just relatively more conservative than the next generation, they don’t switch sides and start flying confederate flags.

  12. Tom M says:

    I’m intrested, (but too lazy to do the research) to see what the relevant perception of the SCOUTS was after the Bush v Gore decision, one of the (arguably) most important decisions ever made by the court.
    It’s decision set the stage for a vast amount of what we see today.
    In a decision that SHUT DOWN counting/investigating ballots and awarded the Presidency of the United States to team Red?

    What percentage of the Dems were up in arms and wanted to change the court – how many ELECTED Democrats stood up and derided the court, and introduced or floated changes to the court and tenure?
    Did any elected Democrats stand up in the chamber and pull an Arthur Kincade and claim that the court was out of order, like Cruz? Like a number of Republican congressmen/women?

    Were left wing radio hosts screaming that it was a take over and illegitimate use of power?

    Maybe on the extreme left… but I’m not of the extreme left, so I don’t know.

    Anecdotally, most people I know who where or are liberal said that they accepted the decision, that it was too big an issue to think it was done on a partizan level.
    They hoped that the court was straight.

    Maybe there was a huge outrage like I’m seeing with Obergefell and King v. Burwell… I don’t seem to remember – maybe it’s like having a one year old ten years later – you remember how cute they are when you see one now, you don’t remember the pain.

  13. teve tory says:

    The court does itself no favours in terms of public opinion with the 5-4 decisions where you can guess going in how 7 of the 9 judges are going to rule. Non-lawyers like myself would expect that most times the decisions should be 9-0.

    cases that make it to SCOTUS are ones previous courts have disagreed on. so close decisions aren’t surprising.

    as people age they usually become more conservative,

    i doubt it. Whichever party was popular in your late teens/early 20’s is generally who you stick with from then on. Generally. According to the social sciences.

  14. teve tory says:

    I’ve commented before about the positive feedback loop that exists on the Republican side. The voters, politicians, and radio talkers push each other further and further to the right. The Rs have done a pretty good job of getting their people on the court, only to find themselves becoming unpopular with their own side because they are under some constraints from reality and the R voters have gone way to the right of reality.

    you would probably like this article. it’s very long but it chronicles how high ratings which are good for fox/limbaugh/hannity etc create a mass of TeaTard voters who can’t be satisfied–because they’re dumb and misled and want impossible things–and are wrecking the GOP: They Don’t Give a Damn About Governing

  15. DrDaveT says:

    @Tom M:

    Were left wing radio hosts screaming that it was a take over and illegitimate use of power?

    This is one of those zen koan “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” kinds of questions. There’s no such thing as a “left-wing radio host”, at least not in the sense that there is such a thing as a right-wing radio host.

  16. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: Hey, the bankers won. The Greek people will continue to struggle and die to make sure that the rich stay rich. And yet you’re still whining about how icky those leftists are — and hijacking threads to do it.

    We get it. Bankers rule, lefties drool. Can we move on?

  17. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pete S:

    I seem to recall some analysis showing that the Court is issuing just as many 5-4 decisions. We hear about the 5-4 decisions. We don’t hear about the unanimous decisions, of which there are many.

    The political nature of the Court doesn’t surprise me. Things are changing rapidly and that’s not going to happen without conflict and disagreement.

    Re: people getting more conservative as they get older. I think that’s broadly true but conservative is a relative and fluid term. For example, I’ve moved against the death penalty as I’ve gotten older but for conservative reasons (don’t trust the justice system; think it’s a waste of money).

  18. Tom M says:

    EDIT: it’s Arthur Kirkland, NOT Arthur Kincade, my bad.

  19. Grumpy Realist says:

    @wr: I’m simply wondering about their brains. It’s not the troika that is now frothing at the mouth and wanting to charge Varoufakis with treason.

  20. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Hal_10000: it’s also usually the 5-4 decisions where you have the iffy issues where the law really is undecided.

    9-0 issues are where the constitutional issue is obvious but you had a circuit split below and a bunch of judges that did everything they could to avoid deciding on the constitutional issue.

  21. stonetools says:

    @Tom M:

    You remember right. Liberals were p!ssed over Bush V. Gore , but they got over it, starting with Al Gore who said this:

    President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities. I, personally, will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans — I particularly urge all who stood with us — to unite behind our next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party; we will stand together behind our new president.

    Democrats even pledged to work with GWB, and did cooperate with Bush to pass legislation he proposed. The scorched earth opposition we have seen from the Republican Party since 2008 did not happen 2001-2008.

  22. wr says:

    @Grumpy Realist: ” It’s not the troika that is now frothing at the mouth and wanting to charge Varoufakis with treason.”

    Right. The Troika WON.

  23. Hal_10000 says:

    Thinking about this some more … do we really care? I think the Court’s opinion numbers represent the politics *around* the Court more than anything else. I’ve been — more or less – satisfied with the Roberts Court and I think they tend to rule narrowly. But it seems that every decision provokes the most vehement reactions imaginable. The Court says, “No, we’re not going to overturn Obamacare for you” and the conservatives go crazy. The Court says, “The government can make employers provide birth control coverage except for a few techniques with a handful of businesses” and we’ve suddenly burned privacy.

    Would it matter if the Court’s approval numbers were sky-high when they signed off on Dred Scott and Korematsu and Plessy? The Court’s job is to decide issues based on the Constitution regardless of popular opinion. That’s the entire reason beyond a lifetime appointment — to put them (in theory) beyond politics. If it were put up to a popular vote, the entire Bill of Rights would be gutted.

  24. humanoid.panda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Planning to arrest the head of the national bank if he doesn’t play nicely? Then to hack into the Tax files so you can set up a “parallel banking system” when Greece finally has to go Grexit? Deciding to have nice long talks about this with a bunch of hedge fund managers?

    If I recall correctly, when FDR moved to save the banking system, he used some veeeery dubious legal reasoninng- basically employing laws meant for use in wartime to do things they were never intended to do. Sometimes, you have to plan and execute the craziest shit [of course, revealing this to hedge funders was a very silly move..]

  25. anjin-san says:

    @bill:

    as people age they usually become more conservative

    When I was 20, I was a Reagan Republican, a self-identified conservative. My life experience at the time did not go much further than “spoiled son of a successful attorney who grew up in a high wealth area and does not know shit about the real world.” I figured I was where I was because, well, I was special, one of the winners. I was too clueless to realize that my father was the one who was a winner, and I was simply along for the ride.

    As the years went by and I gained life experience and saw the world beyond my well-to-do neighborhood, California, and the US, and gradually became a compassionate, well-rounded grown up, I was repulsed by conservative politics.

    Every year that goes by, my freak flag flies a litter higher. My hope is that with the passage of time I will become more concerned with the well being of the sick, the poor, and all those who face life without the advantages that were handed to me on a silver platter. Don’t wait for me to become more conservative, it ain’t gonna happen.

  26. Anonne says:

    I have gotten more “liberal” as I have aged because I’m not a selfish or sociopathic human being. I also like things like evidence, and understand that freedom is something for all and not just a privileged few or for people I like.

  27. JohnMcC says:

    Ran across a typical complaint about the Supremes: “In the last four years, the sound rule of giving statutes the benefit of all reasonable doubt has been cast aside. The (Supreme) Court has been acting not as a judicial body but as a policy-making body….The Court in addition to the proper use of its judicial junctions has improperly set itself up as a third house of the Congress — a super-legislature, as one of the justices has called it — reading into the Constitution words and implications which are not there and which were never intended to be there. We have, therefore, reached the point as a nation where we must take action to save the Constitution from the Court and the Court from itself.”

    That was FDR in ’37 after the NRA and the AAA were ruled against. And the ‘action’ he took was the ‘Court Packing’ bill that failed in the Senate. (Quoted from Don Vardo’s ‘Great Depression’ – page 58.)

    As to the question of older -> conservative, I become more personally conservative as I approach within a few months of 70, using the word to mean stable or unadventurous. But I become more and more left in political views because I’ve seen what conservative governance and politics are like and they s*ck. So in my older & wiser persona I can live with Bush v Gore just like previous generations lived with Plessy until it was done away with but in my leftier and leftier persona I began voting again with the Clinton Impeachment (voted for Nixon – swore I’d never do anything so stupid again) and actually wrote checks and knocked on doors for Barack. And now-a-days, if you come visit me I’ll give you directions to my house that includes the phrase ‘look for the Bernie Sanders yard sign.’

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Grumpy Realist: Krugman has a slightly different opinion:

    “People are apparently shocked, shocked to learn that Greece did indeed have plans to introduce a parallel currency if necessary. I mean, really: it would have been shocking if there weren’t contingency plans. Preparing for something you know might happen doesn’t show that you want it to happen.”

    I’d give you a direct link but the NYT hates me today. It is at his blog, July 27- 2:23 pm

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools: This. Also I find a disturbing “violence” in the language of many on the right. It isn’t even an outlier any more. We had a US Senate candidate speaking of “2nd Amendment solutions” and nobody even called her language the treasonous bile that it was. And that was tame. After Newtown Joe the Plumber (not a serious political figure) said something to the effect of , “My 2nd Amendment rights are more important than your child’s life.” He was cheered by many on the right.

    Now Obama is marching the Israeli’s to the oven door.

  30. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What this piece of news seems to have hit head on with the gang of conspiracy theorists who are convinced that the IMF is already in charge of the Greek tax bureau (a lot of people have pointed out that if this were true, the IMF wouldn’t have had so much difficulty getting tax data from the Greeks, but never mind…), the OTHER gang of theory conspiracy types convinced that Putin was going to bail out Greece if they ever did go Grexit, and the third batch of conspiracy types convinced that everything reported is all a plot by the newspaper owners and none of what’s reported is true.

    It’s not the Plan B that is freaking most of the rational commentators out–it’s Varoufakis going and talking to a whole bunch of hedge fund types about it, which makes no sense at all.

  31. KM says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    disturbing “violence” in the language of many on the right.

    Pray for him, cause some fools just love to perform
    You know the type, loud as a motor bike
    But wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight

    The language of the over-confident wannabe badass. We all know at least one like the timid guy in the bar who swears he’s causally kicked a cop’s ass once and will do it again to you for the lulz but gets all twitchy and stammering when a voice is raised a few feet away. The guy who complains about minorities and women, how he’s gonna put ’em right but when talking to their faces, is non-confrontational or passive-aggressive at best. The ones who declare themselves real Alphas like that’s actually a thing humans do when they’d be lucky to be a gamma in a wolf pack.

    The language of brash machismo has slipped into the right’s language precisely because they are trying to appeal to these people. “It’s all ‘dem ——‘s fault! They’re totally evil!!! Imma kick their asses so hard and show ’em what for! That’s why you should vote for me!” Stand-ins to live out the fantasy. They’re not powerless, no siree – they’re strong capable sure-shots who stand firm in their beliefs and have bitchin’ representation.

    The linguistic violence is necessary since quite frankly it’s the only kind they’ll ever get to indulge in and win.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    @bill:

    as people age they usually become more conservative

    I think this is largely true.
    Unfortunately today’s Republicans, including the Republican Justices, are not Conservative.
    The policies and agendas being pursued by the Republican party and the opinions being proffered by the Republican Justices can only be defined as radical.

  33. Tony W says:

    This court proves, in my mind, that Conservatives will actually hold reasonable policy positions as long as money/elections are out of the picture. If Congress would behave like the Supreme Court I would disagree with them sometimes on policy decisions but I would respect that my position is in the minority.

    The gamesmanship shown by candidates and elected Republicans in recent years may win the battle, but it loses the war.

  34. Tony W says:

    @C. Clavin:

    as people age they usually become more conservative

    There’s a degree of confirmation bias in play with this statement. I would argue that people who choose a Conservative political stance are more likely to survive to old age due to wealth, access to health care & nourishing foods, etc.

  35. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: “Short-term I worry about a backlash. The elements of the Democratic coalition are picking at each other more, showing less cohesion. ”

    I don’t see that. For example, we’ve coalesced around Clinton quite nicely; the Dems in the Senate are holding together.

    Or, to put it another way, we’ve been in that backlash for decades now.

  36. stonetools says:

    I think the reason Republicans are so mad about the Supreme Court is that they are thinking, “This is OUR court, g-dd@mmit! We fought for it, groomed candidates to be selected for it, voted in Presidents to pick the “right” cadidates, and voted for Senate majorities to approve said candidates. Despite all this, some of those ungrateful candidates don’t always vote the straight conservative ideological line! That is treasonous cuckservatism!.”

    This despite that the probable reality that on its record and make up, this is the most conservative Supreme Court since the mid 1930s. Just shows how far the Overton window has moved right.

  37. Barry says:

    @Pete S: “The court does itself no favours in terms of public opinion with the 5-4 decisions where you can guess going in how 7 of the 9 judges are going to rule. Non-lawyers like myself would expect that most times the decisions should be 9-0.”

    Most decisions are, or at least a plurality. Perhaps you should find out more (it surprised me, also!).

  38. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “Except that if it were a clear cut matter of interpreting the law, it likely wouldn’t reach the Supreme Court.”

    There’s a saying from Harvard Law School – ‘nobody would be here if they could not tell noon from midnight, so we spend all of our time on cases which are dawn and dusk’.

  39. KM says:

    @stonetools:

    cuckservatism

    Wow. That just cuts right to the fragile masculinity complex, doesn’t it? Talk about airing your dirty laundry…..

  40. Barry says:

    @grumpy realist: “It’s not the Plan B that is freaking most of the rational commentators out–it’s Varoufakis going and talking to a whole bunch of hedge fund types about it, which makes no sense at all.”

    Unless he was trying to line up some foreign financing.

  41. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree! I’m 69 and retired and after decades of gray pinstripe suits my inner hippie has come to the surface again. I am more liberal than ever as are most of my friends. We are seeing the leading edge of the boomers becoming old – these are children of the 60s who are not really conservative but perhaps pretended to be so for decades.

  42. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “I’d give you a direct link but the NYT hates me today”

    Maybe they’ve confused you with Hillary Clinton…

  43. grumpy realist says:

    @Tony W: I’ve found myself becoming more conservative AND more liberal at the same time. Let me explain.

    As time goes on, I’ve become more grumpy and suspicious about people who never get anywhere and who keep “suffering bad luck.” It’s like all the beggars who keep accosting me at the train station–at some point when I see the same damn idiot with the same sign for years, I stop feeling pity. YOU are responsible for the choices you make and the habits you chose to emphasize. I can help, encourage, give information to friends who are having a hard time–but THEY are the ones who are going to finally have to get their asses in gear and their feet on the road.

    On the other side, I’ve become far more pro-worker and pro-union. I think we privilege capital far too much over labor, especially in our tax rules. I think that as corporations have become more and more like the nobles of yore, that the morals concerning noblesse oblige are even more applicable. Ditto for rich people–you wouldn’t be rich unless you had the American (and foreign) market to sell to, so make sure you give back to the community to make certain there will continue to be a middle class that can purchase your goods. Not is it a good idea, it’s also a good protection against revolutions.

  44. Guarneri says:

    But, but, but what about the dead lion?,

  45. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: that analogy is in line with 3rd world cultures killing homosexuals as they fail to realize that they don’t breed themselves into existence.

    @C. Clavin: true, i’m not all that conservative- but i can’t see many redeeming qualities in democrat candidates. too much pandering to the fringe and trying to be “big brother”. just my $02.

    @Guarneri: i know, right! jimmy kimmel weeping on tv about an aged lion …..what the hell happened to him? he used to host “the man show” for crissakes.

  46. Franklin says:

    If you simply compare the killing of one lion vs. all the other wrongs with the world today (you know how many elephants have been killed just TODAY? how ’bout black people?), then yes the lion got too much media coverage. But I think the reason it is getting so much attention is because:

    1) It was a well-known lion, and
    2) Most people probably don’t know much about this tourism hunting crap. Therefore, it’s a new story to them, unlike the well-known issues we have with killing elephants or black people or whoever else. And people naturally think it’s silly to spend so much money just for the “fun” of killing animals.

    I know dentists have inferiority complexes, but it doesn’t really make one a man to shoot an animal from a distance. If the guy was going to feed his family with it, fine. But it was just for fun, and that’s a pathetic way to have fun.

  47. C. Clavin says:

    @bill:

    i can’t see many redeeming qualities in democrat candidates. too much pandering to the fringe and trying to be “big brother”. just my $02.

    I see your point…I also thought things were much better when my 401K was at about 1/3 of it’s current value, we were shedding 700,000 jobs a month, we were occupying Iraq, and my friends couldn’t marry who they wanted. Let’s party like it’s 2008 again!!!! Woohoo!!!

  48. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    @Franklin:
    I don’t care much about the lion…there far more outrageous things being done to animals everyday at a Frank Purdue factory farm.
    But I’m amused by these cowards…like the dentist and Dick Cheney…who have to go on these rigged hunting parties in order to get their jollys. Complete losers. But at least the dentist didn’t shoot anyone on the face.

  49. JohnMcC says:

    @Franklin: It’s not a Cecil the Lion thread but the poor old feline seems to be on lots of people’s minds. I’ll take the invitation (and thank you, sir, for the invitation you didn’t know you were offering – :>) and make a few comments:

    1st, What a shame that none of the critters that Ms Palin was blasting away at (with distinctly bad gun handling skills on display) had been given names and been the object of wildlife tourism in Alaska.

    2d, There has been a remarkable lack of RWNJ websites defending the business of ‘captive hunting’. There is a thought that hunting is becoming more and more compatible with fairly left-side opinion because the greatest threat to practicing hunting is the closing of private lands and the land that’s sure to stay open to hunters is public land.

    We tend to identify hunters as right wing, understandably so because the setting is rural and there usually aren’t too many ivy league graduates involved just lots of pick up trucks. But hunters know that habitat is the be-all and end-all for hunting and access is on gov’t controlled fields. So guess what? They are not at all the ‘open carry’ @ssholes one might think. In fact, one of the simplest but most effective things someone can do for the environment is to go buy a federal duck stamp.

    3d, It is driving the social-conservatives totally bats–t that old Cecil is getting more sympathy than the babies that PParenthood is dismembering and distributing here and there and everywhere.

  50. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: A Gov Perry ‘oops’:

    4. For what it’s worth, at least up until recently the foreign exchange of quite a few African nations was achieved in large part by fees collected from trophy hunters. Not just a few Africans made their living and fed their families from that ‘industry’. It no doubt seems ugly to we who are used to meat wrapped in cellophane and fur made from petroleum but it’s true.

    And finally, I do NOT think that Mr Palmer, no matter what his sins, should be extradited to Jonathon Mugabe’s judicial system.

  51. Tyrell says:

    I have thought that it would be a good idea for these judges to get out more and talk to the regular working class people. They spend their time having to listen to a bunch of lawyers, many of whom have some sort of agenda. An effective method would be to have a weekly talk show where two of them could talk about issues, decisions from the past, and people could call in their questions and comments. People could also get answers about legal questions that they might have.
    The Supreme Court judges need to find out how the people feel about things. They certainly can’t go by a lot of these rigged surveys, biased news channels, and many of the newspapers.
    That could go a long way to helping their image in this country. I find a lack of support for them across the board when it comes to political affiliation, age, and race. Most people feel that since they are not elected they are not accountable to the people.

  52. Franklin says:

    @JohnMcC: Interesting points, particularly about the left vs. right stuff on hunting. If you’re like me, you understand that hunting can be done right. I’m not a hunter, but basically if you only eat what you can kill, it’s easily sustainable and I don’t see any real ethical problems with it. I would begrudge Ted Nugent that point, no problem, even if he’s otherwise an offensive idiot.

    P.S. BTW, apologies to any dentists out there. I did take an unfair potshot at Mr. Palmer for his chosen profession, but I was really just trying to question his motivation for paying big money to be aided so much in a senseless kill.

  53. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tom M: I don’t remember Bush v. Gore the same way, but I may live among a more liberal cohort than you do. On the other hand, the Democrats in power did take the highest road available after the decision (personally, I wish they had taken it earlier, but the goal posts had not been moved to the extent they have been since and I still counted as conservative among my friends).

  54. Grewgills says:

    @Tyrell:
    Scalia and Ginsburg as Click and Clack.

  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Heh. Conspiracies are everywhere.

  56. JohnMcC says:

    @Grewgills: Terrific! Of course the alternative is Tom and Ray Maggliozzi getting nominated to the Court. (Of course, it would be too late for Tom – RIP.)

    It would be so cool to see Nino and Notorious RBG on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal some morning; the callers are always so enlightened and insightful. (SNARK IN CAPS)

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Franklin:

    but it doesn’t really make one a man to shoot an animal from a distance.

    Just to set the record straight, he was bow hunting. Most bow shots are made from 20-30 yards, with 40 being the max for all but the most extraordinary of bowmen. Like it or not, stalking to within 20-30 yards of a lion takes a certain amount of courage. Haven’t been following this story too close because of all the emotional baggage getting aired. I don’t know much about the “canned hunt” aspects of this case, a “canned hunt” being one where animals are kept in cages until it is time for them to be shot. From what little I have read about it though, that does not describe the life of Cecil.

  58. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Like it or not, stalking to within 20-30 yards of a lion takes a certain amount of courage.

    I think that may not be true. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/dont-forget-that-killing-a-lion-is-the-most-cowardly-thing-y?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.aoYoVpYKw6

  59. Dumb Brit says:

    In the last ten years the Court has changed from a 7-2 Republican Presidential nomination to 5-4 Republican advantage. Just waiting for the Tea Party heads to explode when they realize that a Hilary presidency could quite reasonable make the appointments lean 7-2 Democrat (or even 8-1 considering the Chief Justice is the only Republican nominee under 65 years old)!

  60. Lynn Eggers says:

    @bill: “as people age they usually become more conservative”

    In my 20s, I was Republican County Chairwoman. Now, I have a Bernie Sanders sticker on my Prius.

  61. Lynn Eggers says:

    @Franklin: ” yes the lion got too much media coverage. But I think the reason it is getting so much attention is because:”

    Because it’s a simple, largely black/white issue, the dentist is an easy target, and there is a lot of anger floating around.

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: Once on a caving expedition I found myself standing in the gut pile of a jaguar kill. Here I am surrounded by an impenetrable green wall of vegetation armed with nothing but a machete and out there is an animal who hunts and kills things for a living with reactions and muscles honed to the last ounce of perfection by millions of years of evolution*** and I know.… it’s yellow eyes are watching me with murderous intent. Does it want to eat me? Or just stop me from stealing it’s food?

    Fortunately, it is exceedingly rare for a jaguar to attack a human. It happens, but it is very rare. The same can not be said of lions. And I can tell you, in that moment at least, a kilometer from the closest human being, many more kilometers from a vehicle, dozens of kilometers from anything resembling a road, and a hundred kilometers from anything like a clinic, it didn’t matter one bit to me.

    *** fun fact: the jaguar has the strongest bite of all the big cats. It’s preferred method of killing is to attack from behind and use a single bite to the skull. It is a very efficient method.

  63. george says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think this is largely true.
    Unfortunately today’s Republicans, including the Republican Justices, are not Conservative.
    The policies and agendas being pursued by the Republican party and the opinions being proffered by the Republican Justices can only be defined as radical.

    Perfectly said.

    A quick look at what conservative means around the world shows that what is called conservative in America is nothing like what the word means anywhere else.

    For instance, conservative in Canada means keeping the public health system while arguing for a private health option (as per France and much of Europe). An opinion which is to the left of much of the Democrats in the US.

    Conservative elsewhere means conserving what is good, and being cautious about trying new things before testing the outcomes. In the US conservative means trying to go back to some fictional past because of ideology.

    So in most of the world, people do become more conservative as they get older – having children and grandchildren kind of lead to that. However, it generally plays out in banning pesticides and pollutants (grandchildren, remember?), making sure the school system works, and so on.

  64. stonetools says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    You were certainly right to be scared. Let’s face it, to a big cat a human being is an ape and big cats have been eating apes for as long as there have been big cats. However, these trophy hunters are shooting these animals from a blind and they are generally backed up by a couple of people with high powered rifles, so it’s not really a test of courage. It’s only a test of courage if the lion can actually win. Now if they did it Masai style with thrusting spears, then we would be talking courage. What we are talking at best is marksmanship, mixed with a sick desire to kill critters for the sake of bragging that you killed a critter. Now that’s legal, but I’ll be g-dd@mned if I’ll agree its admirable.
    There’s got to be a better way of conserving wildlife habit by endorsing sociopathic behaviour, whether we are talking lions in Africa or bears in North America , and I’m Ok with a public shaming of the dentist, and this a$$hole:

    hunting is where it all starts: Jones — the “African wildlife-hunting cheerleader,” as Fox News dubbed her — only came to the Internet’s attention when she began posting pictures of dead lions, elephants and leopards to Facebook. There’s a picture of a tiny, toothy Jones posing with one of her first kills, a gigantic cape buffalo, c. age 13. There was another image, since deleted, of Jones sitting astride a dead lion, its mouth yawning open. …

    Jones — a big-grinned, immaculately made-up blonde on Texas Tech’s cheerleading team — often poses with her kills in short-shorts and regularly shares variations on the sexy-girl-huntress fantasy. (You can Google that yourself, but suffice it to say most feminists would not find it appealing.)

    To top it all off, there’s the fact that Jones, like many African trophy-hunters before her, seems to view the entire continent as some cross between an exotic playground and an impoverished cesspool in need of her benevolence.

    “Can’t wait to go visit an elementary school in Zimbabwe to hand out all these goodies to the unprivileged school kids!” she posted at one point, next to a paltry pile of candy and off-brand school supplies. (Enraged commenters promptly called Jones stingy, conceited and stupid.)

    Honestly, I want to drop her right in the middle of lion country with nothing but a canteen, and see how she does then.

  65. Stonetools says:

    Now I have just heard Cecil’s brother Jericho has been killed by another of these sociopathic faux hunters. So Cecil’s Cubs are now finis. Fxvk these a$$holes.

  66. Stonetools says:

    @Stonetools:

    OOPS nope. Twitter was wrong again. Ok, 24 hour rule from now.