by Dan Way
Amid all the petty squabbles and tempests in a teapot as a crowded field jockeyed for position in the Republican race for president, not to mention the media’s nonstop focus on anything and everything Donald Trump, scant attention has been given to the crucial issue of the candidates’ views on Supreme Court picks.
The next president, conventional wisdom holds, could appoint up to four new justices.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, perhaps trying to secure President Obama’s previous voters and supporters in her neck-and-neck presidential battle against Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, made a curious overture the other day. She indicated a willingness to appoint Obama to the Supreme Court if she is elected in November.
But according to pollsters at Rasmussen Reports, a majority of voters neither would approve of putting Obama on the Supreme Court, nor want to see him run for a third presidential term.
From a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted on Jan. 28 and 31, with a margin of sampling error +/- 3 percentage points, and a 95 percent level of confidence. :
[O]nly 21% of Likely U.S. Voters think the next president of the United States should name Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fifty-nine percent (59%) oppose such a nomination. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.
Even among his fellow Democrats, just 40% think an Obama nomination to the Supreme Court is a good idea. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 65% of voters not affiliated with either major party are opposed.
Obama graduated from Harvard Law School and taught constitutional law for 12 years at the University or Chicago Law School.
Last July, Obama said he would win a third term as president if the law allowed it, but just 30% of all voters said they would vote for him. That support hasn’t changed: 31% say they would vote for Obama if he legally could seek a third term, but twice as many (62%) say they would not support him.
But the president has the support of 60% of Democrats if a third term was possible. Only eight percent (8%) of Republicans and 22% of unaffiliated would join them, though.
With just the first round of the presidential contest over, most voters still think the next occupant of the White House is likely to be a Republican.
Blacks are evenly divided over the question of whether the next president should name Obama to the Supreme Court, but 69% of black voters say they would support the president if he legally could seek a third term.
Only 18% of whites and 23% of other minority voters favor naming the president to the high court. Most white and other minority voters would not support the president for a third term.
Forty-one percent (41%) of political liberals approve of putting Obama on the Supreme Court, but only eight percent (8%) of conservatives and 20% of moderates agree.
Among voters who believe the next president should nominate Obama for the Supreme Court, 79% say they would vote for him if he ran for a third term.
The president acknowledged in his final State of the Union speech last month that “the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better” during his presidency, while at the same time speaking proudly of what he considers his greatest accomplishments. But for many voters, Obama’s accomplishments are exactly what have divided us.
Still, voters regardless of partisan affiliation agree that the upcoming election will have little to do with the president’s record.
Just 31% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.
Thirty-eight percent (38%) believe the Supreme Court is too politically liberal. Just 23% think the high court is too conservative, while 30% now consider the Supreme Court’s ideology to be about right.