Supreme Court wins more Republican support with recent rulings

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The Supreme Court didn't win any Democratic fans with the rulings they handed down in the last month, but approval of the high court is up 21 percentage points among Republicans since last September.

According to a new Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans who identify as Republican approve of the Supreme Court, up from 30 percent in 2013. Democrats' approval, on the other hand, has dropped from 58 percent in 2013 to 44 percent in 2014. Approval from independents has remained largely stable, dropping just one point from 47 percent to 46 percent.

Many of the major decisions handed down in the last several weeks are viewed as favorable towards the GOP. The biggest was a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, a family-owned business that objected to a mandate under the health care law that requires companies to help pay for their employees' birth control. In a 5 to 4 decision, the court agreed that closely-held firms like Hobby Lobby are protected from such regulations by a 1993 religious freedom law.

The court delivered a handful of other GOP-friendly rulings, including one that said prayer is acceptable at public meetings, and another that ruled private health care contractors are not obligated to pay public sector union dues even if they are paid by public health care programs.

Americans are split in their assessment of the court's performance overall, with 47 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving. Since 2001, approval ratings have mostly fallen from 62 percent to 47 percent, while disapproval rates have risen from 29 percent to 46 percent.

Politics have driven spikes in approval and disapproval ratings before. The 2000 decision that decided the presidential election in favor of George W. Bush led Republican approval of the court to hit 80 percent, while the 2012 decision that affirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act pushed Democratic support up to 68 percent.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for