Majority of voters no longer trust Supreme Court. Up next: The Trump case.


Four years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States was, by far, the most-trusted institution in Washington.

Now, as the high court nears the end of another potentially seismic term, public trust in the court has eroded.

Americans’ trust in the court dropped 20 points from 2020 to 2022, according to Gallup, to a record-low 47%. For the first time, a plurality of Americans (42%) viewed the court as “too conservative.”

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As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a case Thursday on whether presidents have absolute immunity, trust in the high court remains near historic lows. But there is a way forward.

Partisanship has been a principal driver of the loss of trust. Since late 2020, the high court has had a 6-3 conservative supermajority. It has delivered several high-profile decisions favoring conservative policies, including overturning the right to abortion, ending affirmative action in college admissions, and expanding gun rights. While Republican confidence in the court has remained steady, trust has cratered among Democrats and some independents. 

But the court is also taking, or being forced by lower courts to take, a steady diet of high-profile, politically charged cases. Meanwhile, the overall size of its docket is the smallest it’s been since the Civil War. As a result, the controversial cases take up even more oxygen. And the justices themselves, with ethics scandals and their public rhetoric, have at times given the impression that distrust is merited.

Cases this term could further break, or buttress, trust in the court. On Thursday, former President Donald Trump will argue – to a high court that includes three justices he appointed – that he should have immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct while he was in office.

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