2 in 3 Americans want mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.
Photo credit Getty Images
By , WBBM Newsradio

A new survey shows a majority of Americans want term limits or a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices, who currently serve for life.

According to a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 67% of Americans support a proposal to set a specific number of years that justices serve, including 82% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans.

Views are similar about a requirement that justices retire by a specific age -- 75% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans would support such a measure.

"I think some of those people have been up there too long. They don't have new ideas," Inez Parker, an 84-year-old Democrat from North Carolina told the AP. "When you get a certain age and everything you get set in your ways, just like I'm set in my ways."

Phil Boller, a 90-year-old Republican from Tennessee, offered the AP another point of view: "Basically it's worked the way it's been going, and I see see no reason to change that."

Justice Clarence Thomas, 74, and Justice Samuel Alito, 72, are the oldest members of the court. The other justices range in age from 50 to 68.

Three justices recently served into their 80s: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served until her death at age 87; Justice Stephen Breyer retired at age 83; and Justice Anthony Kennedy retired at age 81.

The poll also found a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans saying they have "hardly any" confidence in the court -- now 43%, up from 27% in April. The drop in confidence was driven by Democrats, while views of the court among Republicans have improved.

According to the poll, 64% of Democrats say they have hardly any confidence in the court, versus 27% who felt that way in April; 31% have only some confidence, versus 53% in April; and 4% have a great deal of contrast, versus 17% in April.

Comparatively, 18% of Republicans say they have hardly any confidence in the court, down from 24% in April; 47% have only some confidence, versus 55% in April; and 34% have a great deal of contrast, up from 21% in April.

The AP says the poll was conducted following high-profile rulings that include stripping away women's constitutional protections for abortion. It shows more Americans disapprove than approve of the court's abortion decision, 53% to 30%, with just over half saying the decision made them "angry" or "sad."

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they are very or extremely excited, proud, or relieved about the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Democrats are more likely feel very or extremely angry, hopeless, anxious, or sad, according to the poll.

The poll of 1,085 adults was conducted July 14-17.

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