President Trump's election, his immediate move to name Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and his slam of judges stopping his immigration executive orders, has sparked unprecedented attention to the judiciary, according to a new C-SPAN survey.
Released just days before the Gorsuch Senate confirmation hearings, the survey found that the public believes the court impacts their lives and, as a result, it swayed how they voted last fall.
What's more, the greatest percentage ever agreed with C-SPAN and other open meetings advocates that the time for live TV coverage in the Supreme Court is now. Some 76 percent want cameras, higher than in previous C-SPAN/Penn Schoen Berland surveys.
And, added the polling analysis, putting cameras in the court might help reshape the negative view Americans have of the court as a partisan hotbed.
"Three in five Americans believe the high court is split into parties because they are presented no evidence to the contrary," said Robert Green of the polling firm PSB. "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."
In the C-SPAN release, he noted that the partisanship swirling around the court didn't just start with Trump's recent attacks on West Coast judges stopping his immigration orders.
"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."
Other key findings:
— 42 percent said Trump's criticism of sitting judges is appropriate – including 20 percent of Democrats and 22 percent liberals. Some 57 percent don't.
— 43 percent support the Gorsuch nomination, 31 percent oppose.
— 90 percent said "decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court have an impact on their everyday life as citizens"
— 82 said Supreme Court appointments were an important issue when considering their 2016 presidential election vote.
— 71 are following the news of the Gorsuch nomination.
C-SPAN also announced that it will cover the Gorsuch confirmation hearing live beginning Monday.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org