What is liberal ideology?
Overall views of the U.S. Supreme Court – and its ideology – have changed only modestly since last measured in April before the court’s end-of-term decisions, including the Hobby Lobby ruling that limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement.
But among liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans there have been sizable changes in opinions of the court; more liberals now view the Supreme Court as conservative – and fewer conservatives view it as liberal – than did so just a few months ago.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 8-14 among 1, 805 adults, finds that as many Americans call the court liberal (26%) as say it is conservative (27%). More (38%) say the current Supreme Court is “middle of the road.”
Before the recent rulings, somewhat more viewed the court as liberal (31%) than conservative (25%), with 35% viewing it as middle of the road.
Liberal Democrats are much more likely to see the court as conservative after this term’s rulings; fully 60% now say this, compared to less than half in April (47%). Today, liberal Democrats are nearly twice as likely as the public overall to say the court is conservative.
By contrast, there has been an 11 percentage point decline in the share of conservative Republicans who view the Supreme Court as liberal (from 53% in April to 42% currently). Today, conservative Republicans are as likely to say the court is middle of the road (44%) as to say it is liberal (42%). In April, more conservative Republicans saw it as liberal (53% vs. 33% middle of the road).
The balance of opinion about the court’s ideology also has shifted among Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the Tea Party. Today, about half (51%) view the court as middle of the road; in April, most Tea Party Republicans described the court’s ideology as liberal (56%).