Public Backs Sotomayor for the Supreme Court

Conservatives are doing their level best to derail the nomination of Latina Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, targeting her race and views on abortion in particular. But these culture wars appeals are having little effect on the public’s views.

In a just-released ABC News/Washington Post poll, 62 percent of the public says Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court should be confirmed by the Senate, compared to just 25 percent who think she shouldn’t be confirmed. This level of support is among the highest recorded for recent Supreme Court nominees.

Consistent with this result, just 22 percent of Americans think Sotomayor’s racial and ethnic background plays a negative role in her decisions as a judge, compared to 52 percent who think her background plays no role and 16 percent who think it plays a good role.

And on abortion, the public is clearly not terribly frightened by conservatives’ allegations that Sotomayor might be pro choice. By a 60-to-34-percent margin, they say if Sotomayor was on the Court they would want her to vote to uphold the landmark Roe v. Wade case that established abortion rights in the country. This is consistent with other recent poll findings that show, if anything, increased opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2006, 62 percent in a CNN poll said they would not like to see the Supreme Court overturn its Roe v. Wade decision; in their most recent reading, in May of this year, CNN found 68 percent opposed to a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Once again, it just doesn’t seem like the culture wars line of attack is working for the conservatives. This is great news for progressives and terrible news for conservatives, who are losing one of the chief weapons in their political arsenal. I provide a detailed analysis of this development in my new Progressive Studies program report, "The Coming End of the Culture Wars," to be released later this month.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Culture page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.