New C-SPAN/PSB Survey

Timed for #SunshineWeek & Gorsuch hearings: New Poll Shows Strong Public Support for Cameras in the Court

  •  90% Say Supreme Court Decisions Affect their Lives
  •  82% Say Supreme Court Appointments Were Important in Presidential Vote
  •  71% Following News About President Trump’s Nominee

In conjunction with Sunshine Week and timed for the opening of confirmation hearings for President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, the public affairs TV network C-SPAN asked strategic research firm PSB to examine public attitudes on several topics related to the Court.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Nine in ten likely voters (90%) say “decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court have an impact on their everyday life as citizens”
  • 82% say U.S. Supreme Court appointments were an important issue when considering their 2016 presidential election vote
  • Nearly three in four likely voters (71%) are following the news concerning President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch

Thinking about recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, a nearly two-third majority (62%) say they believe that “Supreme Court justices are split on political grounds like Congress.” By comparison, just over a third (38%) say they believe the Supreme Court “acts in a serious and constitutionally sound manner.”

Meanwhile, 42% say that President Trump’s criticism of sitting judges is appropriate – including 20% of Democrats and 22% liberals.

Television news is the top source of the public’s information about the Supreme Court — seventy percent say they get their information about the high court from TV, followed by newspapers (37%) and online media (35%).

Fully three quarters (76%) say the U.S. Supreme Court should allow TV coverage of its oral arguments. PSB has tracked this particular metric over several years on behalf of C-SPAN, and public support for cameras in the high court amid the current video-rich news media environment is presently 15 percentage points higher than when PSB first measured this topic starting in June 2009.

“Three in five Americans believe the high court is split into parties because they are presented no evidence to the contrary,” says Robert Green, Principal at PSB, which has conducted 11 national public opinion studies on the high court, including six studies commissioned by C-SPAN. “The absence of TV cameras inside the Supreme Court for oral arguments has allowed others to define the court. Cameras would provide a counterbalance to what voters are constantly hearing about the judiciary from Presidents, Congress, and the media.”

Green adds, “The public’s perception of the Court as partisan, political entity did not form overnight. A direct line can be drawn between President Obama lecturing Justices during his State of the Union address and later President Trump openly criticizing decisions and judges by name. The high court’s decision to remain literally out of sight has hurt rather than helped their reputation and the legitimacy of many of their most controversial decisions.”

The C-SPAN/PSB Supreme Court survey is timed for both Sunshine Week (March 12- 18), an annual campaign for greater access to government and public information, as well as the upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearings for Neil Gorsuch.

Watch live coverage of the confirmation hearings on the C-SPAN Networks beginning the morning of March 20, 2017.

Download the complete poll results here >


PSB conducted online interviews from March 7-9, 2017, among n=1,032 U.S. likely voters. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.05% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups.

About C-SPAN: Created by the cable TV industry in 1979 and now in nearly 100 million TV households, C-SPAN programs three public affairs television networks in both SD and HD; C-SPAN Radio, heard in Washington DC at 90.1 FM and available as an App (Android, iPhone, Blackberry); and a video- rich website offering live coverage of government events and access to the vast archive of C-SPAN programming. Visit http://www.cspan.org/

About PSB: PSB is a global strategic communication advisory rooted in the science of public opinion that specializes in messaging and strategy for blue-chip political, corporate, and entertainment clients. For over 40 years, PSB has provided actionable insights and advice to help client win in highly competitive situations. PSB serves Fortune 100 corporations and has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world. PSB is a part of Y&R and WPP. Visit http://psbresearch.com