09/12/2005 - With hearings on the nomination of John Roberts beginning today in Washington, a growing number of Americans say that Roberts should be confirmed as chief justice. In polling conducted over the weekend by the Pew Research Center, 46% expressed support for Roberts's confirmation, up from 35% in a poll conducted last week. Opposition to Roberts was mostly unchanged (21% now, 19% last week). A third of respondents had no opinion, down from 46% last week.
With President Bush facing the task of filling another court vacancy, public opinion continues to tilt in favor of maintaining the court's ideological balance. About four-in-ten (39%) believe Bush should nominate people who will keep the court about as it is now; 30% favor Bush selecting nominees who will make the court more conservative; and 24% say Bush should choose nominees who will move the court in a more liberal direction. The balance of opinion on this issue has been stable since March.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted among 1,523 Americans Sept. 8-11, 2005, finds about half (48%) saying that the president's choices of the next Supreme Court justices are very important to them personally; this percentage has remained steady since June. A similar number (46%) said the nomination of a chief justice was personally very important to them.
As expected, there are partisan differences over Roberts's nomination, though about as many Democrats support his confirmation as oppose it (31% vs. 33%). A relatively high proportion of Democrats and independents (36% each) declined to offer an opinion. About two-thirds of Republicans (68%) believe the Senate should confirm Roberts, but even among Republicans about a quarter (24%) did not express an opinion.