Scalia: Controversial, Yet Unknown

Gallup: From the American public’s perspective, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “was one of the high court’s controversial figures. In July of last year, popular perceptions of the conservative jurist were evenly divided, with 29% seeing him favorably and 27% unfavorably. Scalia, whom one prominent legal scholar named “the most influential justice of the last quarter-century,” was nonetheless unknown to nearly a third of Americans (32%) and generated no opinion from another 12% in 2015, Scalia’s 29th year on the nation’s top court.”

Trend: Favorability of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

“Interestingly, the modest erosion of Scalia’s popularity over the past 15 years came primarily not from increased Democratic hostility to the Republican-appointed judge but rather because of souring Republican views. In 2015, Scalia’s ‘net favorable’ rating — the difference between his favorable and unfavorable ratings — among Republicans was +6, down considerably from +36 in 2005. This drop — the largest among any of the three major political affiliations — may have been a bitter pill to swallow for one of the court’s most reliably conservative votes.”

z’Paralleling Scalia’s declining popularity among Republicans has been a striking increase in unfavorable views of him among conservatives. In 2005, 36% of conservatives viewed Scalia favorably, compared with 7% who had an unfavorable view. In 2015, Scalia’s favorable rating with conservatives held steady (34%), but his unfavorable rating surged to 26%. Somewhat unexpectedly, Scalia’s 2015 net favorable score among conservatives (+8) was about on par with his score among moderates (+6).”


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