07/05/2005 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision to step down from the Supreme Court sets up a possible next chapter in the nation’s culture wars. If the debate over O’Connor’s replacement turns into a referendum on Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a woman’s right to abortion, the argument is likely to galvanize a significant portion of the American public.But typically, Supreme Court nominations are not followed closely by large percentages of Americans. The controversial nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1991 was very much an exception in this regard. About two-thirds of the public (66 percent) was engaged by the battle over Thomas’s nomination in the summer of that year; by contrast, only about four-in-ten (43 percent) had followed news of David Souter’s selection a year earlier.
Opinion about Roe vs. Wade is highly politicized, but the public overall continues to strongly oppose the total reversal of the Roe vs. Wade decision. By 63 percent - 30 percent, the public rejects the idea of completely overturning of Roe vs. Wade. That margin has remained stable for more than a decade.