Six in 10 Americans approve of Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, and the same majority would like to see senators vote on his nomination.
Throughout the month since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, Senate Republicans, who are constitutionally tasked with advising and consenting on the president’s nominations, have said they would neither hold hearings nor vote on any pick until after the presidential election. On Wednesday, Obama sought to test their resolve by nominating Garland, a reputed moderate and the 63-year-old Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, whom Republicans had praised in the past.
The Obama administration’s best hope is that the handful of Republican senators in tough November races will balk under popular pressure. The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Supreme Court Nomination Poll, conducted online from March 17-18, 2016 among a national sample of 1,838 adults aged 18 and over, may offer them some comfort, if not a slam dunk. Only 36 percent of survey respondents believe Congress should delay voting until a new president is sworn in, and only a third disapprove of the nomination.
Notably, 56 percent of survey respondents have either a favorable or somewhat favorable view of the Supreme Court. Contrast that with the current RealClearPolitics polling average, which indicates only 12.8 percent of Americans approve generally of Congress. (The same averages show the country is evenly split on Obama himself.) The NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll also found that 41 percent of respondents believe that the Supreme Court has too much power, compared to 52 percent who think it has the right amount of power.