Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Public Opinion on the Supreme Court and Health Care

More Americans think Supreme Court justices will be acting mainly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Half of the public expects the justices to rule mainly based on their “partisan political views,” while fewer, 40 percent, expect their decisions to be rooted primarily “on the basis of the law.” The rest say both equally or do not have an opinion.

The court held a historic three days of oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last month, and its ruling probably will come just before the court adjourns at the end of June. The poll shows little enthusiasm for the Obama administration’s position that the law, passed by the Democratic Congress in 2010, should be upheld in full.

Only a quarter of Americans choose that as the desired outcome. Thirty-eight percent would like the entire law thrown out; 29 percent would like the court to strike the requirement that individuals obtain health insurance and to keep the rest of the law.
Only 39 percent of Americans support the health-care overhaul in general, the lowest percentage since the Post-ABC poll began asking the question.

The public’s perception of the court is closely tied to partisan and ideological leanings. Almost twice as many conservative Republicans think the court will decide on the basis of the law rather than politics, 58 to 33 percent. Liberal Democrats are more skeptical, saying by an equally wide margin that the court will put politics first.
A few weeks ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported results of its own poll:
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case challenging parts of the ACA later this month, and at this point, most Americans say they are not paying very close attention to the case. Just under four in ten say they are following news about the case “very closely” (9 percent) or “fairly closely” (28 percent), while most report following it “not too closely” (38 percent) or “not at all” (25 percent). It may not be surprising then, that while the majority (58 percent) are aware that the ACA is still the law of the land, more than four in ten either think it has already been overturned by the Supreme Court (14 percent) or are unsure (28 percent).
This confusion and relative lack of attention may be related to the fact that most do not expect the Supreme Court’s decision to have a big impact on their own lives; just under three in ten (28 percent) say the decision will have “a lot of impact” on them and their family, with about a third (36 percent) saying it will have “some” impact. The public is more likely to expect the Court’s decision to have a big impact on the country as a whole (50 percent) and on the future of the U.S. health care system (49 percent).