Poll: Most think politics will influence Supreme Court health care decision

Paul Clement, a lawyer for 26 states seeking to have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act tossed out in its entirety, leaves the Supreme Court in Washington, March 28, 2012, at the end of arguments regarding the health care law signed by President Obama. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Attorney Paul Clement leaves the Supreme Court
Paul Clement, a lawyer for 26 states seeking to have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act tossed out in its entirety, leaves the Supreme Court in Washington, March 28, 2012, at the end of arguments regarding the health care law signed by President Obama.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.


A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Thursday shows that most Americans think the Supreme Court's health care decision will be based on justices' personal and political views.

According to the poll, 55 percent of Americans believe political positions will play a role in the health care decision, compared to 32 percent who believe justices will decide the case based on legal analysis. While fewer Republicans - 48 percent - believe personal or political views play a role, there respondents of different political stripes have a similar view. Fifty-six percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents say justices' political views will influence the health care outcome. The margin of error is three percentage points.

The Supreme Court is considered to have four liberal-leaning justices and four conservative-leaning justices with one who is considered to be the swing vote.

CBS News/ New York Times asked a similar question of the Supreme Court but did not limit it to the health care law. Seventy-six percent of respondents said Supreme Court justices' decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal views. Respondents' answers were the same regardless of political affiliation.

As for the health care law, nearly seven in ten Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn either all of President Obama's health care law or strike down just the individual mandate.

Nearly one-quarter - 24 percent - of respondents want the entire law upheld.

The percentage that wants to see the entire law abolished is up slightly since April, when 37 percent said they wanted the court to overturn the full law, 29 percent said only the mandate should be overturned and 23 percent wanted the whole law upheld.

The poll also found that while 48 percent disapprove of the law, 34 percent of those polled approve it, which is fewer than the 39 percent who approved in April but more than the 32 percent who approved in March 2010, the same month the law was signed into law.

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Thirty-seven percent of respondents say the law went too far while 27 percent said it didn't go far enough. A quarter of those polled say the law is about right.

Though most Americans - 72 percent - say they know at least some of the details about the 2010 health care law, only 28 percent say they know a lot about it. Of that 28 percent who know a lot about the law, 62 percent disapprove of it, including 58 percent who disapprove strongly.

The poll also asked participants about their approval of Congress. Fifteen percent of respondents approve of the job Congress is doing while 77 percent disapprove. Congress' approval ratings has increased since October 2011, when it saw its lowest approval ratings at 9 percent.

More from the poll:

Poll: 60 percent oppose lifetime Supreme Court appointments
Poll: Most Americans think Arizona immigration law is "about right"
Poll: Most want Supreme Court to overturn individual health care mandate

Read The Complete Poll (PDF)


This poll was conducted by telephone from May 31-June 3, 2012 among 976 adults nationwide. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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