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AP-NORC poll: Many support court confirmation of Jackson

More Americans approve than disapprove of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as the first black female justice, according to a new poll, but that support is politically skewed. And a majority of black Americans — but fewer white and Hispanic Americans — approve of his confirmation.

Overall, 48% of Americans say they approve and 19% disapprove of Jackson’s High Court confirmation according to the new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. The remaining 32% of Americans have no opinion.

Jackson’s nomination fulfilled a campaign promise by President Joe Biden to appoint a black woman to the court should the opportunity arise. The findings suggest confirmation did more to energize Biden’s Democratic base than energize Republicans in the opposition, despite vocal resistance from some GOP lawmakers who were largely united in voting against his confirmation on April 7. Three Republican senators broke with their party to confirm it with a 53-47 count.

Eighty percent of Democrats and only 18% of Republicans approve of Jackson’s confirmation to replace incumbent Justice Stephen Breyer. Among Republicans, however, less than half — 43% — say they disapprove of the Harvard law graduate’s confirmation. Another 37% of Republicans have no opinion. Only 5% of Democrats disagree; 15% say they have no opinion.

It is not uncommon for a relatively high proportion of Americans to express no opinion on a judge’s confirmation. In October 2018, after the vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh following a resentful confirmation marred by sexual assault allegations, 35% approved, 43% disapproved, and 20% said they had no opinion. And in October 2020, before the vote to confirm conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the seat of the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 30% favored her confirmation, 35% opposed and 34% said they had no opinion. .

Jackson, 51, a federal appeals judge in Washington, will join the court this summer when Breyer steps down. She will become the third black person to serve on the court, following the late Justice Thurgood Marshall and current Justice Clarence Thomas. The tribunal will for the first time have four female members and two black members while white men will constitute a minority of the tribunal.

“It took 232 years and 115 prior nominations for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said in a speech at the White House after her confirmation. “But we got there. We made it, all of us.

Kimberly Brown, 41, is among those endorsing Jackson’s confirmation. Brown, who lives in New York and works in health care, is a Democratic-leaning independent and called Jackson’s confirmation “historic.”

“I just feel like it’s a historic moment to see a black woman nominated and then also confirmed to the Supreme Court, which has never been done,” said Brown, who is black. . “I’m just thrilled that she can take all of the knowledge and skills that she has developed over the course of her career and her studies and apply them…in a seat at the highest court.”

Brown said she watched some of Jackson’s hearings and found Jackson “showed up really well,” answering lawmakers’ questions thoughtfully and thoroughly.

Jackson’s hearings have been marked by intense questions from some Republican senators, ranging from his conviction record on child pornography cases to his views on teaching critical race theory books in the classroom. .

The poll shows that about half of Americans, including about a quarter of Republicans, disapprove of the way GOP senators have handled the confirmation process; only about 2 in 10 Americans approve. Nearly twice as many Americans approve of how Senate Democrats handled the process. Still, about a third of Americans say they have no opinion for Republicans or Democrats.

Unlike Brown, Republican Gail Thompson, 77, of Washington state, said she felt Jackson was evasive in answering questions from Republican lawmakers. Thompson, a retired medical assistant, said she also thought Jackson was “soft on crime.”

“I don’t agree with what she did,” said Thompson, who is white. “And I’m really sad that she was nominated.”

Brown and Thompson not only reflect the partisan divide, but also a sort of racial divide over Jackson’s confirmation. Among black Americans, 63% approve and 18% disapprove of Jackson’s confirmation. Black voters were among the keys to Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election – about 9 in 10 backed him, according to AP VoteCast – but his approval rating among black Americans has dropped dramatically in the polls AP-NORC conducted since his inauguration.

Approval of Jackson’s confirmation is lower among white and Hispanic Americans, at 46% and 41%, respectively, although similar percentages in racial and ethnic groups disapprove. Many white and Hispanic Americans say they have no opinion.

Overall, more Americans say they approve than disapprove of Biden’s handling of Jackson’s confirmation, 42% to 33%. About 8 in 10 Democrats approve; about two-thirds of Republicans disapprove.

Biden’s immediate predecessor, Donald Trump, appointed three conservative justices to the court – Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett – giving the court a 6-3 conservative advantage, which Jackson’s nomination will not change. Biden’s former boss, former President Barack Obama, named two judges — Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who is the court’s first Latina judge.

The new poll shows that trust in the Supreme Court remains low, according to the poll, but is similar to where it was in an AP-NORC poll from February. Eighteen percent of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in the High Court and 54% have some confidence. Another 27% say they have almost no confidence.

Republicans and Democrats have similar levels of trust in the court. Opinions are also similar across racial and ethnic groups.

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The AP-NORC poll of 1,085 adults was conducted April 14-18 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.


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