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News Posted on May 17, 2012

Associate Dean Amar Publishes Op-ed on Declining Public Approval of Supreme Court in Daily Journal

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law, published a commentary in the Daily Journal on Monday, May 14 on the declining public approval ratings of the U.S. Supreme Court. The essay was adapted from a longer piece he posted on May 11 as his bi-weekly column for

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, the percentage of Americans holding a favorable view of the Court is at its lowest point in 25 years, dropping from 72 percent in 2001 to 52 percent today. Associate Dean Amar suggests a number of possible reasons for the decline.

"Part of the slide is probably linked to dislike and distrust of government at all levels and in all forms, and perhaps also to an even broader angst about whether America's economic, social, and legal institutions are still worthy of faith," Amar writes.  "That would help explain why Court approval has slid among Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Beyond this general unease, there may be Court-specific factors. Over the last dozen years the Court has been thrust -- or inserted itself -- into particularly high-profile partisan disputes in ways that make it hard for casual observers to see how the justices operate differently from the overtly partisan actors on Capitol Hill."  One noteworthy aspect of the survey is the particular decline in approval among Republican respondents in recent years, which Amar suggests might owe in part to a hardening and increasingly conservative element within the Republican Party.

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law with the UC Davis School of Law, is a national authority in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal procedure, and remedies. His biweekly column for, a leading provider of online legal information, centers on his expertise in constitutional law.