Two-thirds of voters oppose Democrat push to add four seats to Supreme Court, new poll finds

Supreme Court
A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, November 15, 2016. |

A little over two-thirds of Americans oppose the idea of expanding the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new poll.

The survey of over 1,100 U.S. registered voters was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc. and sponsored by the conservative legal nonprofit First Liberty Institute, which is devoted to protecting religious freedom rights. 

The poll gauged the opinions of voters about the debate over adding seats to the nine-justice Supreme Court days after President Joe Biden established a commission to look into adding justices to the Supreme Court. 

Specifically, respondents were asked: “For over 150 years, the United States Supreme Court has had nine justices. ‘Court-packing’ is generally defined as increasing the number of Supreme Court seats, primarily to alter the ideological balance of the court. Do you support or oppose ‘court-packing’?”

The polling firm found that 68% of respondents opposed “court-packing,” while 27% supported the proposal. 

When broken down by political party, it was found that 90% of Republicans and 47% of Democrats opposed expanding the Supreme Court, as did 68% of independents. Half of Democrats (50%) said they support the idea. 

When asked about a recently introduced legislative proposal by congressional Democrats to add four seats to the Supreme Court, 65% of respondents said President Biden should oppose it while 31% said he should support the idea.

Party identification again showed a large gap, as 63% of Democrats surveyed supported adding four seats while 95% of surveyed Republicans opposed adding four seats.

Mason-Dixon conducted the poll from April 15 through April 19, interviewing respondents over the phone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO and of The First Liberty Institute, said in a statement that the results showed that “Americans recognize that court-packing is a brazen power-play by political extremists to overthrow our court system.”

“Court-packing is a direct assault on the independence of the judiciary,” stated Shackelford. “Other countries have done this, with disastrous results.”

“The last thing our country needs right now is a coup on the Supreme Court. We need our Constitutional system. It is the envy of the world.”

The recent poll is not the first to indicate that most Americans are hesitant to support expanding the number of justices to the highest court in the land.

Last October, The New York Times and Siena College Research Institute conducted a poll of 987 likely voters in the U.S. with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. 

When the Times and Siena asked if voters supported expanding the Supreme Court should Justice Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed and Joe Biden became president, 58% of respondents opposed expanding the court while 31% supported the idea.

Regarding party affiliation, the New York Times poll found that 89% of Republicans, 65% of independents and 28% of Democrats opposed expanding the number of justices on the high court. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats responded that Democrats “should increase [the] size of Supreme Court.”

Earlier this month, Biden signed an executive order creating the 36-member commission to assess the Supreme Court’s current status and whether it should be reformed.

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