More say politics, not the law, drive Supreme Court decisions: POLL


(NEW YORK) — Ten months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, two-thirds of Americans continue to oppose its decision — and 51% now think its justices base their rulings mainly on their personal political opinions, not on the law.

Early in 2022, before the abortion ruling, the public divided evenly, 46%-45%, on whether the justices’ rulings were based mainly on the law or on their own political preferences. Today, well fewer than half, 39%, think Supreme Court rulings are based mainly on the law, a 7-point drop in this fundamental measure of confidence in the court.

While these views have grown more partisan, even among Republicans and conservatives, just half think the justices rule mainly on the basis of the law. And today, just 35% to 37% of Democrats, independents and moderates alike, and 27% of liberals, think so. Faith in the court to follow the law has dropped by double digits in three of those groups.

Women are especially likely to oppose the ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. But majorities of women and men alike oppose it, and confidence in the court to rule mainly on the basis of the law is down among women (minus 7 points) and men (minus 6 points) alike. (The declines are slight given sample sizes.)


Results of this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, underscore broad and continued majority support for abortion rights in the United States, a contrast to the state-by-state upheaval prompted by the high court’s ruling last summer.

Among those results, 78% of Americans say the decision whether to have an abortion should be left a woman and her doctor, rather than regulated by law. (It was 70% and 75% in two previous ABC/Washington Post polls since 2021.) Even majorities of Republicans (58%) and conservatives (60%) hold this view, as do anywhere from 82% to 96% of those with other partisan and ideological preferences.

Notably, even among evangelical white Protestants, typically the leading anti-abortion group, 56% say the decision to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor. That rises to 75% of Catholics, 83% of non-evangelical white Protestants and 92% of people with no religious affiliation.

As noted, 66% overall oppose the court’s Dobbs ruling, including 54% who strongly oppose it — far above strong support, 22%. Overall opposition encompasses 71% of women, compared with 61% of men. It’s also higher among Black (81%) and Hispanic (74%) adults than among white people, 62%.

Most evangelical white Protestants, conservatives and Republicans support the ruling, but not overwhelmingly so — 58% among evangelicals, 55% among conservatives and 54% among Republicans. Those compare with much higher levels of opposition in other political and ideological groups — 71% among independents, 79% among moderates, 88% among Democrats and 92% among liberals.

The result among independents, in particular, marks potential political risk to anti-abortion candidates. Seventy-seven percent of independent women oppose Dobbs, as do 65% of independent men. Seventy percent of suburban women oppose it, as do 63% of suburban men. And 60% in the states won by Donald Trump in 2020 oppose Dobbs, rising to 70% in the states won by Joe Biden.

Similar to attitudes on Dobbs, 66% overall say the abortion drug mifepristone should remain on the market. Half of evangelical white Protestants say so, as do 46% of conservatives and 45% of Republicans — with support rising much higher in other groups.

Among its supporters, 72% say the drug should remain as available as it is now.

While mifepristone is now unavailable in 14 states, 60% of residents of those states say the drug should be available versus 27% who say it should be off the market. In other states, 68% say mifepristone should remain available.

The Supreme Court last month blocked, for the time being, two lower court rulings against mifepristone — one overturning the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug, the other blocking its distribution by mail. That case continues in the lower court.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone April 28-May 3, 2023, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults. Partisan divisions are 26-25-41%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, including the design effect. Sampling error is not the only source of differences in polls.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Maryland. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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