As Hobby Lobby decision reverberates, confidence in Supreme Court drops to record low
On the same day the US Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling effectively expanding the concept of corporate personhood by allowing Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood and other closely held corporations to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a Gallup poll found Americans have less confidence in the high court than at any other time since the polling organization first began taking surveys on the topic. Gallup first measured confidence in the Supreme Court in 1973.
The Gallup poll was conducted June 5-8, well in advance of the announcement of the court’s ruling on the ACA’s contraception coverage mandate, but it stays in line with a trend of Americans having less confidence in all branches of governments: executive, legislative and judicial. Only 30 percent of Americans now have confidence in the Supreme Court, Gallup found, down from 37 percent in 2012 and an all-time high 56 percent in the mid-1980s.
The high court’s ruling came in response to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to challenge the requirement to provide certain contraception coverage under the ACA.
In writing for the conservative majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., said the 1993 law applied to for-profit corporations controlled by religious families, the New York Times reported. Alito wrote that the requirement for these companies to provide contraception coverage imposed a substantial burden on the companies’ religious liberty and said the government could provide the coverage in other ways.
Alito was joined by justices, , and Chief Justice .
In her dissent,wrote: “The court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths.”
Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by justices Elena Kagan,and .
The decision applies only to closely held corporations, defined as a privately held company that has a limited number of shareholders with stock that is only traded on occasion. But both Ginsburg and Sotomayor said that the ruling “is bound to have untoward effects” in other areas.
Gallup noted that from 1973 to 2006, when Presidentnominated Alito, “the Supreme Court maintained confidence ratings in the 40s and 50s in all but one poll.” But by 2007, a year after Alito was confirmed, the Supreme Court's confidence rating dropped sharply to 34 percent and has not reached 40 percent since that time.
Congress also hit a record confidence rating in the Gallup poll, dropping to just 7 percent, down from 13 percent in 2012. Confidence in the presidency fell to 29 percent, its lowest rating of’s presidency and the lowest since it stood at 26 percent in 2008 under Bush. The all-time low confidence rating in the presidency was 25 percent in 2007.