Americans divided over whether first Black female justice will make a difference, Post-ABC poll finds

Only two Black men have ever served on the nation’s highest court – the late Justice Thurgood Marshall and current Justice Clarence Thomas – and Black Americans are the most enthusiastic about adding a Black woman. A 65 percent majority of Black Americans say it would be good for the country, with 33 percent saying it would make no difference, according to the poll.

There is a sharp partisan difference in the results. Nearly 8 in 10 Democrats welcome President Biden’s decision to nominate an African American woman, saying it would be a good thing for the country. That compares to 42 percent of independents and 16 percent of Republicans. Among those who identify with the GOP, 70 percent say the nomination would not make a difference, and 10 percent say it would be a bad thing.

There are gender differences, too. Over half of women, 54 percent, say that having a Black woman on the Supreme Court would be a good thing for the country, compared to 35 percent of men.

President Biden nominated DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Feb. 25. Here’s what you need to know. (Blair Guild / The Washington Post)

Biden has announced that he will nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to replace 83-year-old Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who plans to retire at the end of the Supreme Court’s term this summer.

Americans split down the middle in their confidence in Biden in selecting a good nominee for the court: 49 percent say they are “very” or “somewhat” confident, and 49 percent are less sure than that.

The court has a 6-to-3 conservative supermajority that would not change with Biden’s choice to replace the liberal Breyer. With a docket of divisive issues, the Supreme Court during this term alone is hearing a challenge to Roe v. Wade‘s guarantee of the right to an abortion, as well as cases on gun control laws and environmental protections, and the public’s opinion of the court often changes based on the latest decision.

The poll shows that 44 percent of Americans approve of the way the Supreme Court is doing its job, while 36 percent disapprove and 19 percent offer no opinion. That is an improvement from the court’s recent falling approval rates. A September Gallup poll found 53 percent disapproved of the court’s performance, a record low.

But charges from politicians and interest groups that the court is politically biased are taking a toll. The country is about evenly divided on the question of whether the justices decide cases mainly based on the law (46 percent) or mainly based on their personal political views (45 percent).

Democrats and Republicans hold strikingly similar views on that.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Sunday through Thursday among a random national sample of 1,011 adults reached on cellphones and landlines. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for overall results; the error margin is 12.5 points among the subsample of 90 Black adults.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.

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