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Poll: Most Americans want Supreme Court to reject Trump immunity claims

April 5, 2024

A slim majority of Americans support the Supreme Court’s recent decision to keep former President Donald Trump on the ballot, according to a poll released on Wednesday, April 3, but they are largely unconvinced that he should be granted immunity from prosecution, reports CNN.

The Marquette Law School poll found that 56% backed the high court’s decision last month to keep Trump on Colorado’s presidential ballot despite claims he violated the “insurrectionist ban” in the 14th Amendment with his conduct ahead of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Nearly40% said they opposed the decision.

But 62% of respondents opposed granting “former presidents” immunity, compared with 20% who supported that idea.

The poll landed as the justices prepare to hear arguments this month in a blockbuster dispute over whether Trump may claim immunity from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion case. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has argued that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results were part of his official capacity as president.

Pollsters asked half of respondents whether “former presidents” should receive immunity and the other half whether “former President Donald Trump,” specifically, should be shielded from prosecution. The share of respondents supporting immunity for Trump rose by 8 percentage points.

The difference, the poll’s director said, appeared to be due largely to Republicans who generally oppose immunity for “former presidents” but who were more willing to support such protections for Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“The striking finding is that Republicans reverse themselves when asked about Trump rather than ‘former presidents,’” said Charles Franklin, a professor of law and public policy and the director of the Marquette Law School poll.

“One implication is that Republicans are not paying enough attention to Trump’s Supreme Court appeal to realize without prompting that the immunity case is about Trump,” he added. “Only when the question directly says, ‘This is about Trump’ do they swing sharply, reversing what they would think about ‘former presidents’ in general.”

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the immunity case on April 25, rounding out its scheduled arguments with one of the most closely watched cases of the year.

In another experiment, pollsters noted in interviews with half of the respondents that the court had decided that the Trump “insurrectionist ban” dispute “unanimously” and omitted the description with the other half.

Including the word “unanimously” led to a slightly higher approval of the decision—but also a higher share of respondents who were opposed.

The court was unanimous in its bottom-line conclusion in the ballot case but split deeply over the reasoning.

Americans’ support for the Supreme Court has slipped considerably in recent years following a series of controversial rulings, notably the 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 opinion that established a constitutional right to abortion. Several justices, meanwhile, have faced blowback over ethics and transparency controversies.

The new Marquette poll found 47% approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing—a slight increase over recent polling, but well below where it stood just three years ago.

Research contact: @CNN