Americans Split On How the Supreme Court Should Interpret the Constitution, Study Shows
That the partisan divide runs deep in the U.S. isn’t breaking news, but the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch reveal that there’s a deadlock over how Americans read the Constitution.
Research shows the division on Constitutional interpretation among the public splits right down the middle of the political spectrum.
Forty six percent of Americans believe the Supreme Court should make rulings based on what the law “meant as it was originally written,” according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. The same percentage of Americans say the Consitution should be interpreted based on what it “means in current times.”
Historically, this hasn’t changed much. Republicans and right-leaning independents generally take an originalist approach, while Democrats and liberal independents take a modernist one, the Pew Research Center reports.
The Pew Survey found that 74 percent of Republicans believe the high court should interpret the Constitution in a literal sense, along with 23 percent of Democrats.
The divide has widened slightly since the research was last conducted. In 2014, 68 percent Republicans said Justices should base their ruling on a literal interpretation, while 27 percent of Democrats agreed.